BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 27
By Ilkin Seyfaddini - Trend:
Uzbekistan will remain a priority partner country for Switzerland in the next four years, spokesperson of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) Georg Farago told Trend in an interview.
According to him, the Swiss Parliament is presently discussing the new four-year development dispatch and budget for 2021-2024.
“The project portfolio for Uzbekistan will be further developed mainly in its current sectors according to financial availability. For instance, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is currently developing – in a close partnership with the Uzbek government – a project in the field of vocational education and training (VET) aiming at supporting the ongoing sector reform to align the skill sets taught to the students to the needs of the rapidly evolving employers, therefore increasing their chance to be hired," Farago said.
The spokesperson added that SDC and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs support projects of Uzbekistan in the water sector including water infrastructure, policy development and water management, and in the vocational education sector.
“Switzerland also supports the banking sector reform of Uzbekistan and is active in trade facilitation. All Swiss assistance is provided in the form of grants; they are either implemented directly or through multilateral partners such as World Bank Group, ADB and the UN system," Farago said.
He noted Switzerland's involvement in promoting international river management by Uzbekistan for years.
“Through its Blue Peace Initiative, Switzerland can provide support in systemic water management and integrated river basin approaches taking into consideration all the possible use of water in order to manage this scarce resource effectively," Farago said.
On June 16, 2020, the government of Uzbekistan represented by the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) and the government of Switzerland represented by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation signed Agreement on the National Water Resources Management Project (NWRM) in Uzbekistan, Phase 2.
“The project contributes to the development of a comprehensive policy framework and fosters efficient water use. Governmental entities of Uzbekistan will be in a position of defining priorities and decide on trade-offs in case the expressed needs exceed the availability of resources. At field level, better use of water, appropriate crops and relevant irrigation technology will help to decrease water consumption per unit produced. The effect on the Aral Sea is marginal as all the water of the Amu Darya River is dispersed before it reaches the former Aral Sea," Farago stressed.
The spokesperson went on to say that Swiss business has interest in the Uzbek market,
“The Swiss textile industry and, in particular, machine producers have shown interest in Uzbekistan. Moreover, there is a rather general interest for Uzbekistan and its large consumers market from the Swiss export sectors as the country opens up," stated Farago.
According to Farago, Switzerland can also assist in conducting current reforms in Uzbekistan.
He added that Switzerland is ready to support Uzbekistan in its bid to join the WTO.
“As an exporter of goods and services Uzbekistan needs a leveled access to the global markets which the WTO can guarantee. It would facilitate the country's exports to the EU and keep them competitive – for instance in the textile and agricultural sectors," stated the spokesperson of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
Follow author on Twitter: @seyfaddini