Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Dec. 11
By Demir Azizov- Trend:
Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Uzbekistan, the high-level talks held within this visit and the voiced cooperation directions demonstrated the sides' serious intentions to develop cooperation in a wide range of spheres.
Cooperation can be developed beginning with the supply of Uzbek agricultural products to the Russian market and expanded to possible cooperation in the military-technical sphere.
At present, Russia ranks first in the field of trade-economic relations with a share of about 30 percent of Uzbekistan's foreign trade turnover.
The trade turnover volume amounted to $7 billion as of 2013, the Uzbek side said. In the first nine months of this year, it hits about $5 billion. There are around 900 companies with Russian capital in Uzbekistan. The accumulated amount of Russian investments in Uzbekistan exceeded $6 billion.
Nevertheless, Presidents Karimov and Putin believe that there is a huge potential for increasing trade and economic relations.
In particular, Russia expects to increase the supply of agricultural products from Uzbekistan, namely, both fresh and processed fruit and vegetables. Uzbekistan is also interested in stable export of these products to Russia.
The largest existing Uzbek-Russian projects are those being implemented in the oil and gas sector together with Gazprom and LUKOIL.
LUKOIL participates in the project of developing a group of gas condensate fields "Kandym - Khauzak-Shady - Kungrad".
The Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) on the "Kandym - Khauzak-Shady" block, envisaging the natural gas production in the Bukhara-Khiva region in the south-west of Uzbekistan, was signed by LUKOIL and Uzbekneftegaz in 2004. The production began on the Khauzak section in autumn 2007.
LUKOIL will invest an additional $5 billion in the Kandym project by 2039. Currently, LUKOIL is developing gas condensate fields at Kandym on the basis of which a large gas-processing complex with the capacity of eight billion cubic meters of natural gas per year will be constructed.
LUKOIL CEO Vagit Alekperov, who was one of the members of the Russian delegation, said that in January, plans are to sign a $2.8 billion worth contract with Uzbekistan on the Kandym project.
Moreover, LUKOIL is implementing the Southwest Hissar project in Uzbekistan. A production-sharing agreement was signed on this project in January 2007.
The volume of investments in the Southwest Hissar project will exceed $1.2 billion and the gas production volume will be 4.2 billion cubic meters per year. Gas production under the Hissar project started in late 2011.
Meanwhile, LUKOIL participates in the project for the development of the Aral block in Uzbekistan.
The total cumulative volume of LUKOIL investments in Uzbekistan has exceeded $3.5 billion. In total, the company plans to invest over $8 billion in the projects in Uzbekistan and increase the annual gas production volume to 18 billion cubic meters by 2016.
Russia's Gazprom JSC continues the development of Shahpakhty field.
The volume of gas produced by the company at the field increased by five percent and stood at 315 million cubic meters in 2013 and the total cumulative gas production have equaled 2.5 billion cubic meters since August 2004.
Currently, the technical specifications and the feasibility study of the project for development of the Jel field are being worked out. The estimated gas reserve of the Jel field that was discovered in 2009 is 6.4 billion cubic meters.
Some $390 million was invested in the geological exploration program in Uzbekistan's Ustyurt region throughout five years.
The seriousness of Russia's intention to build partnership relations with Uzbekistan is also evidenced by a signed agreement on the settlement of mutual financial claims and liabilities, under which Russia wrote off over $860 million Uzbekistan debt.
Russia says the solution to the issue of debt settlement opens up new opportunities for expanding trade and economic relations between the two countries, including an increase in the Russian military and technical presence in Uzbekistan, as well as deliveries of weapons and modern military equipment under partial credit.
The military and technical cooperation is topical thanks to the mutual concern of the leaders of Uzbekistan and Russia over the situation in Afghanistan with regard to the impending withdrawal of the peacekeeping forces from that country.
President Karimov said, "the unpredictable situation in Afghanistan, after the forthcoming withdrawal of stabilization force troops from there, poses a serious threat to security in the region."
The Uzbek president also said that the creeping expansion of militant extremism and religious radicalism is of particular concern, and not only in Central Asia but also beyond it.
He said any security vacuum in Afghanistan can be filled by a variety of destructive terrorist groups, and today there are already serious signs of infiltration of individual elements of the "Islamic State" into Afghanistan from Iraq and Syria, which demands joint preventive measures.
The president of Russia shares the Uzbek president's concern over the situation in Afghanistan. And the presidents confirmed that the countries' positions on the settlement of the situation in Afghanistan are very similar, in fact identical.
Karimov said that Uzbekistan is "ready to close joint action within the framework of the SCO, including elaboration on the organization development strategy initiated by Russia through 2025, which is planned to be accepted at the SCO summit in Ufa in summer of 2015."
It was earlier reported that as a result of the current negotiations, Uzbekistan and Russia signed a number of intergovernmental documents, including the main document - the Agreement on the main directions of development and deepening economic cooperation for 2015-2019.
Detailed content of the document has not yet been announced, but during the negotiations Uzbekistan showed interest in the functioning of the Eurasian Economic Union.
At the same time, President Karimov expressed hope that Russia will not lose interest to the CIS in connection with the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union.
"It will take a lot of time for EAU to stand on its feet," the president of Uzbekistan said. "But another program that would not repeat all that is discussed in the EAU is needed for the CIS."
Russia and Uzbekistan agreed to begin consultations on the establishment of a free trade zone between the Eurasian Economic Union and Uzbekistan.
"We have agreed to begin consultations on the possible preparation of a contract between the EAU and Uzbekistan on the establishment of a free trade zone," said Putin.
In general, the talks have demonstrated the mutual interest of the parties in the development of relations on a wide range of interaction - the political, economic and humanitarian areas.
Experts said that the implementation of all the intended largely depends on the political will of the parties, socio-economic situation in the countries in the state of crisis and the international situation as a whole.
Edited by CN