New Delhi. 21 October 2020. Manish Prabhat, Ambassador of India to Uzbekistan said that there is a need to take the strategic relations between Indian and Uzbekistan to newer heights that would translate into close cooperation into all areas, including trade, economy, and investments.
Addressing the ‘India-Uzbekistan Business Forum’ webinar, organized by FICCI, Prabhat emphasized the need for enhanced air connectivity between the two countries. “We are working on the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and Uzbekistan can also become its member. An air corridor between India and Central Asia is also being worked on. Indian carriers should also target direct flights to Uzbekistan,” he said. Prabhat urged the Indian freight forwarders to come together to establish a profitable trade route.
Highlighting the trade and investment opportunities for Indian companies, Prabhat said, “Uzbekistan is providing a lot of investment opportunities in various greenfield and brownfield projects. There are tax benefits that Indian industries can avail of and various regions in Uzbekistan provide distinct possibilities for investments. There is a lot of untapped potentials, which both sides need to look into.”
He further stated that the government has set a $1 billion annual bilateral trade target between the two countries. We have reached only one-third of our target so far but there is a lot of potential which still needs to be tapped, Prabhat said. He also added that the government is working on extending the Line of Credit between India-Uzbekistan along with establishing bilateral investment treaty and preferential trading arrangements. “All this will lead to greater cooperation and more investments. Governmental measures will go on to create a business environment to meet the target, but we should not lose the opportunity of the existing trade basket and take it forward,” Prabhat further added.
He also said that despite the current pandemic, the trade between the two countries was rising continually. He added that the government of Uzbekistan, in July, further simplified its import procedures for the medical equipment and pharma sector. “Apart from the pharma exporters, our exporters need to be very watchful of various developments and try to explore all opportunities,” he said.
Dilshod Akhatov, Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan to India said that India occupies a special place in Uzbekistan’s foreign policy. “Economic and trade potential of both countries are not fully utilized, and we need to mutually increase our volume of qualitative trade through improvement in bilateral trade,” he added.
Akhatov said that a joint feasibility study for a preferential trade agreement will contribute significantly to further improve trade and business. “We are looking forward to establishing much stronger relations in sectors like agriculture, energy, pharmaceuticals, textiles, leather, ICT, and tourism. Uzbekistan is highly interested in the implementation of joint projects in the fields of pharma, healthcare, education, and social and infrastructure developments,” he added.
Adarsh Swaika, Joint Secretary, Eurasia Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India said that economic partnership cannot be seen in isolation but through the prism of our overall bilateral relationship. “We need to focus on new areas of engagement in key areas like energy, pharmaceuticals, auto, agro-products, and education. We are also looking at the implementation of several projects from the Indian line of credit in priority development sectors of Uzbekistan. This will give Indian companies an opportunity to showcase their capabilities along with Uzbek companies,” he added.
Harjinder Kaur, Co-Chair, India-Uzbekistan Forum for Business and Entrepreneurship & Immediate Past President, FICCI Ladies Organization said that during the ongoing pandemic, businesses globally are realigning their business strategies and looking for newer markets for expansion. “India-Uzbekistan economy will further gain if we are able to address the issue of connectivity from our nation to our extended neighbourhood. COVID-19 has further underlined the need for having a multi-modal transport corridor,” she added.
Adkham Ikramov, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan; Saurabh S Dhanorkar, Non-Executive & No-Independent Director, Finolex Industries Ltd; Mukhtar Umarov, Chairman of the Association of Exporters of Uzbekistan; Avinash Upadhye, Director of Representative in Moscow & Head, International Business Development for Russia, CIS & East Europe, L&T; Bahodir Kamilov, Advisor to the CEO of BMB Trade Group also shared their perspective on business potential between India and Uzbekistan.