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Country Report: Uzbekistan Independence Day 2020 “Korean companies consider Uzbekistan as a biggest market in the Central Asia.

기사승인 2020.09.25  09:15:32

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▲ President tours the capital city alongside public figures.

To commemorate Uzbekistan Independence Day 2020, Uzbekistan Amb. H.E. Vitali V. FEN contributed his English article to the Power Korea Media Group as bellows, stressing that being located in the center of Central Asia, Uzbekistan forms a hub of the region, which enables many companies to expand their presence in other Central Asian countries. -Ed.

The diplomatic relations between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea have been established on January 29, 1992 after one year since Uzbekistan declared its Independence in 1991. During this period, the heads of two states kept close ties through mutual collaboration in various fields. There has been 16 summits between the leaders along with high level visits of Parliament speakers, Ministers and Deputy Ministers of both countries. In 2019, bilateral relations were upgraded to the level of “Special Strategic Partnership”, which demonstrates that two countries are bound to pave the way for the mutually beneficial, respectful and long-lasting future of each country. Recent visit of Vice Price-Minister Mr. Sardor Umurzakov to Korea, which is the first high-level visit after COVID-19 outbreak demonstrate the special ties of two countries. Currently, Korea is rendering all necessary assistance to Uzbekistan for its accession to the World Trade Organization, which is another significant milestone in the history of diplomatic relations of two countries. 

Being located in the center of Central Asia, Uzbekistan forms a hub of the region, which enables many companies to expand their presence in other Central Asian countries. Under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan has been focusing on improvement of business environment by removal of ineffective administrative barriers, provision of specified tax benefits with the volume of direct private foreign investment and creating of Free Industrial Economic Zone. To give an example of investment climate in Uzbekistan it is worthy to mention about FIEZ is Navoi, which has its own International Airport operated by Korean Air - the largest air cargo terminal in Central Asia. This place was created to attract foreign direct investments, develop transport and infrastructure of the region to turn it into a major logistics center with an access to markets of Central Asia, Europe and Middle East. 

Korean diaspora in Uzbekistan is the second largest in the world. After Uzbekistan gave a shelter to many Korean during Soviet Union deportation and they have played essential role in development of agriculture, economy, culture and politics fields. To name a few distinguished politicians, who are currently actively contributing to the development of the country, there are Minister of Preschool Education Ms. Shin Agripina, Former Head of Uzbekiston Havo Yollari (Uzbekistan Airways) Mr.Tyan Valery–currently Senator of Oliy Majlis, Park Viktor – member of Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis and others.

With the support of many countries, Uzbekistan has been able to contain the virus at the beginning of its wide spread. In particular, with the help of two Korean medical specialists who worked as consultants of preventive measures against COVID-19, Uzbekistan quickly announced a nationwide lockdown, imposed radical social distancing measures, decreased the number of international flights and placed all arriving passengers to the designated quarantine areas for 14 days. Worthy to mention that Uzbekistan was the first country where Korea dispatched its medical experts to tackle with COVID-19. To mitigate the impacts, government has announced a strong package of anti-crisis measures to boost health spending, expand social and business safety nets, and preserve the gains made through the government’s 2017-2021 reform program. As of today, the number of confirmed cases reached 39 790; death cases are 289 and recovered are 35,983 people. 

Korean companies consider Uzbekistan as a biggest market in the Central Asia. In this regard, many Korean companies are eager to establish joint ventures with partners in Uzbekistan. As of June 1, 2020, there were 856 companies with the participation of capital of Korean companies. It should be noted that 346 joint companies were established during 2018-2020. It is a clear indication of the positive effect of the top-level summits in November 2017 in Seoul city and April 2019 in Tashkent city. 

The Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan with the initiatives of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan His Excellency Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev is conducting reforms in all sectors of the economy. The investment climate of Uzbekistan is becoming more favorable for forgeing partners, including Korean companies. Currently, Korean companies are implementing various investment projects in Uzbekistan. 

There are number of success stories in the bilateral cooperation in investment sector. Among them, KT Corporation, which has two subsidiaries in Uzbekistan, ET and EVO – providers of high-speed internet. Besides, in accordance with mutual agreement, the Government of Uzbekistan is implementing Korea’s leading experience in developing e-government system. In cooperation with KTNET, the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan is implementing a project on establishing National Electronic Commerce Platform in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is one of two countries in the world (the second is Liechtenstein in Central Europe), which is considered as “double-landlocked” – it is surrounded only by landlocked countries and in order to reach a coastline from Uzbekistan, it is required to cross at least two national borders. For this specific reason the logistics and transportation is very important. Almost all leading logistics companies of Korea are operating in Uzbekistan. Among them Hanjin Shipping, UNICO, Taewon International Logistics, Pantos Logistics, CJ Logistics, Hyundai GLOVIS and others. 

The distance between the capital cities of Uzbekistan and Korea is almost 5 thousand kilometers and the only convenient way to travel from one country to another is through airplane. Tashkent International Airport and Incheon International Airport are linked via direct flights of Uzbekistan Airways, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines. In pre-pandemic period every week there were 18 direct flights between Uzbekistan and Korea. Currently, in August-September of 2020 there are 2 direct flights per week, including Uzbekistan Airlines and Asiana Airlines.

Uzbekistan with its modern infrastructure, yet many historical touristic sites soon is expected to become a “must go” country for Korean travelers in the upcoming years. With the government measures ensuring the safe tourism, Uzbekistan will soon open the borders to travelers and compensate every confirmed case among tourists, registered at the territory of Uzbekistan. 

Located at the very heart of Silk Road, Uzbekistan has properties of cultural and natural heritage in Samarqand, Bukhara, Khiva and Karshi that are inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. You won’t want to miss Registan square, the Bibi Khanum and Gur Emir Mausoleums, the Shah-i-Zinda complex, Afrosiab  & the Ulughbek Observatory in Samarqand, historic center of Bukhara, fascinating city of Khiva and the capital of the country– Tashkent city. 

▲ Uzbek Amb Vitali V. Fen.(left) signing MOU with IFEZ Commissioner regarding Uzbek Trade Representative in Songdo, Korea.

여홍일 기자 yeo1998@unitel.co.kr

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