Uzbekistan attracts Indian investments in advanced pharma technologies

“Indian entrepreneurs are achieving increased economic presence in many sectors in Uzbekistan. However, the economic and trade potential between India and Uzbekistan is underutilized, and should be bolstered, as bilateral trade between the two countries stands only at USD 443 million”, said H. E. Mr. Dilshod Akhatov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to India at the webinar on ‘India and Uzbekistan Economic Connectivity: Opportunities and Prospects’. The programme was jointly organized by World Trade Center Mumbai, Embassy of Uzbekistan in New Delhi and All India Association of Industries (AIAI).

H. E. Mr. Akhatov remarked, “Uzbekistan is interested in attracting Indian investments in advanced technologies to produce modern competitive drugs, and creation of modern laboratories and research centres focused on development of original drugs. Through business partnerships, Indian companies can get access to the Uzbekistan market of about 35 million people, as also to 300 million consumers through Uzbekistan’s FTAs with CIS countries and Georgia.”

He further said, taking cognizance of the India’s investment potential in the pharmaceutical sector in Uzbekistan, in 2019 a pharmaceutical Free Economic Zone was established in Uzbekistan, designed primarily for Indian investors. More than 10 Indian investment projects are implemented with an investment of over USD 63 million.

H. E. Mr. Akhatov suggested, “Textile industry is of strategic importance to both the countries. Uzbekistan offers competitive advantage in this sector owing to its cheap and skilled labour, and low electricity costs, that reduce the cost of production. Textile companies of Uzbekistan enjoy low duties on import of raw material and equipment not produced within the country. Uzbekistan companies also enjoy preferential market access to EU countries, and Indian entrepreneurs can take advantage of this opportunity through joint collaborations with Uzbek companies.”

Uzbekistan climate and fertile soil are favourable for production of more than 350 types of fruits, vegetables, nuts and agricultural products, exported across the globe. Indian and Uzbekistan businesses can collaborate in the agricultural, education, IT and tourism sectors. “We propose to hold joint programmes, including in online format, to boost tourism between the two countries”, he opined.

H. E. Mr. Akhatov emphasized that Uzbekistan’s development strategy in the last five years has depended on reforms and new initiatives, such as free currency conversion, free economic zones, development of tourism sector, abolition of monopolies, decrease in tax rates for foreign investors, opening of multi-billion credit lines from international banks such as ADB, World Bank, IMF and Islamic Bank, promoting open and free foreign policy, and restarting negotiations with EU for a Free Trade Agreement, among others.

Despite the negative consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, Uzbekistan has shown resilience. In 2020, Uzbekistan’s economy grew by 1.6 per cent. The reforms adopted by Uzbekistan have made it a favourable investment destination. Uzbekistan ranks 69th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings 2020.

In his remarks, H. E. Mr. Manish Prabhat, Ambassador of India to Uzbekistan said, “We congratulate Uzbekistan on its completion of 30 years of independence. On this occasion, India and Uzbekistan should collaborate to take their strategic partnership to new economic heights. India and Uzbekistan have witnessed significant growth in bilateral ties, with the visit of PM Modi to Tashkent in July 2015 and June 2016 and President Mirziyoyev’s visit to India in October 2018 and January 2019.”

He further expressed, “The two countries are working on a prospective bilateral investment treaty. The two governments are also promoting region-to-region and state-to-state business opportunities. There lie trade and investment opportunities ahead between the states of Gujarat and Haryana in India and Andijan and Fergana in Uzbekistan.”

H. E. Mr. Prabhat opined, “Indian companies can explore trade opportunities in Uzbekistan in the pharmaceutical, traditional medicines, light machinery, plastic products, dyes and chemical products for textile industry, auto and auto components, agricultural products, infrastructure consultancy, EPC, tourism and entertainment sectors. India and Uzbekistan can solve connectivity issues by promoting the Chabahar port in Iran.”

Earlier in his Welcome Address, Mr. Vijay Kalantri, Chairman, World Trade Center Mumbai, Honorary Consul General, Honorary Consulate of Uzbekistan in Mumbai and President, All India Association of Industries said, “India’s major exports to Uzbekistan include medicines, vaccines, antibiotics, ayurvedic medicines, parts and accessories of vehicles, cotton combing machines, transmission shafts, oil seed crushing / grinding machinery, cumin seeds and food preparations, among other products. India’s pharmaceutical exports to Uzbekistan more than doubled in FY 2020-21. The two countries have potential to increase trade to USD 1 billion in the near future.”

Mr. Kalantri further expressed, “Indian companies can also invest in chemicals, textiles, leather, information technology and telecommunication sectors in the Central Asian country. For this, we should organize bilateral programmes and exchange delegations between the two countries. The Export-Import Bank of India, on behalf of the Government of India, has extended a Line of Credit of USD 448 million to the Government of Republic of Uzbekistan in December 2020, for financing various infrastructure projects in Uzbekistan”. Mr. Kalantri appreciated Uzbekistan’s efforts to help India fight the COVID-19 pandemic by gifting oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies.

The programme was also addressed by representatives of trade and industry from the two countries, including Mr. Oleg Rigichenko, Head of Department of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan, Mr. Ashwani Lohani, CEO, GMR Services Ltd, Mr. Azamat Isayev, Head of Department of Investment Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan, Mr. Atul Ganatra, President, Cotton Association of India (CAI), Mr. Nishant Bajaj, cofounder of ‘Zaramed Pratiksha Bogishamol’ medical clinic, Uzbekistan, Mr. Madhusudan Agarwal, Joint Managing Director, Ajanta Pharma Ltd. and Mr. Sanjay Bhan, Director of ‘Ediface’ mining company, Uzbekistan, among others.

Ms. Rupa Naik, Executive Director, MVIRDC World Trade Center Mumbai proposed the Vote of Thanks.

The programme was attended by Consular Corps, members of trade and industry and other stakeholders of both countries, who expressed interest in doing business in these countries.