Uzbekistan has launched major economic reforms initiated by the new President Shavkat Mirzijojev, elected on 4. December 2016 with 88,6% of the vote. The importance of maintaining high economic growth and increasing competitiveness of Uzbek economy has become the top priority for the national leadership.
Thus, Uzbekistan freed the currency exchange for all its citizens on 5 September 2017, while devaluing its currency to the informal course (devaluation from 4210 dollars to 8100 dollars). The free interchangeability of Uzbekistan’s soum is a major step in the country’s efforts to integrate into the international economy. For foreign companies operating in the country, this opens up opportunities for repatriation of profits, which has long been a big problem for them.
Another important reform took place in August when the government abolished the mandatory currency exchange of export companies, according to which 25 percent of the export earnings had to be exchanged in the local currency.
The economy is also being reformed with the help of international financial institutions. The EBRD, which activities in the country ended 10 years ago due to human rights disputes, has been called back. In March Bank President Suma Chakrabarti signed the MoU’s regading EBRD return, which is now under preparation. A framework agreement is also negotiated with the EIB.
Foreigners from 27 countries will be allowed to visit Uzbekistan visa-free from 2021. Uzbekistan will also allow free travel of their citizens outside of the country starting from 2019. Similarly, Uzbekistan is working hard on improving political and trade relations with Central Asian republics.
The reforms will be guided by a five-year Uzbekistan’s’ Development Strategy published at the end of January with five focus areas: 1) the development and enhancement of state structures, 2) the rule of law and reform of the judiciary, 3) economic development and liberalization, 4) development of the social sector, incl. wages, pensions, housing, health system, and living conditions. This includes e.g. improving of municipal services, provision of clean drinking water in rural areas through the construction of new water pipelines, consistent introduction of modern cost-effective and efficient technologies as well as ensuring environmental safety 5) ensuring security, ensuring the independence of the state and maintaining of stability.