By Abdul Kerimkhanov
An Uzbek-Italian business forum was held in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent as part of a visit by an Italian delegation led by the governor of the Lombardy region on November 22. The forum had been organized by the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan and served as a platform for discussion of bilateral economic cooperation.
It was noted during the form that Uzbekistan attaches particular importance to further strengthening comprehensive cooperation with Italy, which this year was marked by the holding of the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Working Group, as well as the participation of the Uzbek delegation in the 12th Eurasian Economic Forum and served as a platform for the discussion of bilateral cooperation in economy.
In this regard, the Governor of the Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana, expressed his readiness to provide comprehensive assistance in further strengthening economic ties, which will make it possible to make a significant contribution to the activation and expansion of the entire range of Uzbek-Italian relations.
During the forum, it was also announced that, given the prevailing trade and economic conditions and market characteristics, there is currently vast potential to increase mutual trade volumes to $500 million per year.
The prerequisites for enhancing business partnerships with Italian companies can be the reforms and innovations carried out at an accelerated pace in the country’s economic system, among which it is worth noting the strengthening of the legal framework for a complete transition to a market economy, the introduction of private land ownership, and the removal of restrictions on profit repatriation and the conversion of the national currency, efforts to reduce the role of the state in the economy, improving the tax system and the consistent integration of countries to the world economic system through work on joining the World Trade Organization.
Among the companies of Lombardy that show a steady interest in cooperation with Uzbekistan, one can single out Maire Tecnimont, Mapei, Wood / Foster Wheeler, Asco Filtri, SI.SE, Marzoli, Pietro Fiorentini, Cannon / Bono, Plastics Technologies, In3act, General Medical Merate, and also such large banks as Unicredit Bank and Banca Intesa San Paolo.
Over the past two years, the number of enterprises with Italian capital in Uzbekistan has doubled up to 46. Since the beginning of 2019, as many as 15 enterprises have been created, seven Italian companies have been accredited. Significant prospects for investors of Lombardy in agriculture, the automotive industry and the production of components, the processing of fruits and vegetables, the chemical industry, the oil and gas industry, the textile, silk and leather-footwear industries, in the production of building materials, pharmaceuticals, metallurgy, as well as many other directions.
During the event, the heads of the diplomatic missions of Italy and Uzbekistan, the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan Adham Ikramov, the president of the Italy-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce Luigi Iperti, as well as the leaders of Italian companies and banks, also spoke.
Diplomatic relations between Uzbekistan and Italy were established on March 24, 1992.
Since 1999, there has been a bilateral Working Group on trade, economic and industrial cooperation and export credits.
Trade turnover between the two countries reached $337.6 million in 2018. Among the priority areas of cooperation are agriculture, winemaking, textile industry, sericulture, production of building materials, furniture industry, leather and footwear industry as well as oil and gas sector.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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