There is an enormous opportunity for the UK and Uzbekistan to cooperate more closely in a number of areas, including trade and investment, environmental issues, strengthening of ties between the two parliaments, and further building on the already strong links the two countries have in many sectors, the UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Timothy (Tim) Torlot told Trend in an interview.
According to Tim Torlot, UK has a good relationship and cooperates closely with Uzbekistan in a number of fields, including supporting media freedom and human rights reform, encouraging trade and stronger business relationships, as well as in educational and tourism links.
"Our cooperation is further enhanced by the signing last year of the partnership and co-operation agreement and by the announcement in May 2020, that the UK Department for International Development would launch a bilateral program in Uzbekistan. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked hard to strengthen the high-level political dialogue between our ministers and senior officials. And there has been surprisingly high participation in our regular online business event," the ambassador said.
Torlot stressed that UK welcomes Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s reform program, including economic liberalization, human rights and political reform.
"President Mirziyoyev’s ambitious reform program has made it possible for the UK to develop a strong partnership with Uzbekistan. It is important that these reforms continue, despite the challenges of the coronavirus," he said.
According to the ambassador, the UK companies are mostly involved in the service sector (i.e. consultancy, education, engineering services and professional services) of Uzbek market.
Torlot also emphasized the importance of Uzbekistan's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"Joining the WTO would help open access to world markets and promote competition in the domestic market. It would also help provide further legal protection for companies and opportunities to settle trade issues, and help encourage investment in Uzbekistan. Entry into the WTO would also help lower trade barriers which would bring benefits for consumers by increasing competition and would lower prices for consumers," he stated.
Torlot stressed that UK is ready to help Uzbekistan in its bid to join the WTO.
Talking about the future of Uzbekistan, the Ambassador noted that Uzbekistan is a country where the climate is almost ideal for renewable energy development such as wind or solar.
"The UK has expertise and experience in these areas which we can share. The UK’s expertise in healthcare, legal matters and in banking and finance mean these areas also present a good opportunity for further cooperation. Given the President Mirziyoyev’s recent prioritization on developing the digital economy, this is another sector in particular where the UK is a world leader, and this presents another area for closer UK-Uzbekistan cooperation", stressed the ambassador.
Torlot noted a number of opportunities for the UK and Uzbekistan in sectors such as healthcare, education, digital economy, financial and professional services, the development of the financial and banking sector, development of capital markets, establishment of more education facilities (including higher education institutions), and provision of professional services, e.g. developing international standards across all sectors.
"British Embassy in Tashkent helps to identify and share these opportunities with UK companies on a regular basis, and organizes trade missions to help UK companies learn more about opportunities in Uzbekistan and establish networks with the relevant ministries and companies", said the UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan.
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