Uzbekistan to develop ties with US, China regardless of their own relations

Uzbekistan to develop ties with US, China regardless of their own relations

Baku, Azerbaijan, June 8

By Fikret Dolukhanov – Trend:

China, the United States, the European Union, and, of course, Russia, which all have geopolitical interests in Central Asia, clearly understand that without establishing good relations with both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, there is nothing to do in Central Asia, international journalist, editor-in-chief of the Uzbek Vodiymedia.uz information outlet Dilmurod Jumaboev told Trend on June 8.

He said the recently increased interest of China towards Uzbekistan should be considered within the framework of interest to Central Asia in general.

"Uzbekistan is the fastest growing market in the region with great potential for attracting technology and innovation. China will not want to lose it to South Korea or the US. Uzbekistan not being against multimillion Chinese loans that are issued on condition of attracting Chinese labor and using Chinese equipment is an additional element that makes Uzbekistan attractive," Jumaboev said.

The Uzbek expert said that China needs a strong Uzbekistan as never before.

"There can be a situation when Central Asia, united around Uzbekistan, can hypothetically be better-off in allies with China, which always prefers a bird in the hand rather than two in the bush, than with the US or Russia. Nowadays, it is not only China who sees the potential that will unite the region in today's regional policy of Shavkat Mirziyoyev," Jumaboev added.

He also noted that there is a great unrealized potential in economic relations of Uzbekistan and China primarily in the sphere of technology and innovations, as Uzbekistan is now actively engaged in development of various industries.

"Uzbekistan is rich in resources and needs ideologically not aligned trade and financial partners. So, the country can substantially increase the level of cooperation with China, the world's industrial giant that requires a huge amount of energy resources and raw materials," the expert said.

He reminded that China is one of the highest priority countries for Uzbekistan, considering investments, export and tourism as the main elements of its economic policy.

“With proper marketing, China can become the main market for Uzbek fruit and vegetable products. In addition, as international experience shows, regional tourism is the most widespread type of tourism activity due to tourists preferring to visit countries that are not very far away. Uzbekistan’s number one goal is creating a tourist flow from China, which sends 200 million tourists a year,” Jumaboev said.

Touching upon the US-China relationship and its influence on Uzbekistan, the expert reminded that official Tashkent, both during Islam Karimov’s and now during Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s office, is carrying out a neutral foreign policy, placing the country's interests above all, respecting and not ignoring the interests of partners at the same time.

"Being in the center of the region and being the most populated country in Central Asia, where geopolitical and geo-economic interests of world powers have always been present, Uzbekistan skillfully maintains a balance in relations with all parties. One can say that this factor strengthens peace in the region," Jumaboev said.

He added that both China and the United States are well aware that the partnership with Uzbekistan will always develop regardless of the relations between Washington and Beijing.

Answering the question about the flow of Chinese goods to the Uzbek market, the expert noted that not only China, but no other country will be able to displace Uzbek goods from the domestic market.

He reminded that Uzbekistan earlier during Karimov's presidency pursued a policy of supporting and creating domestic industry in many sectors.

"Various methods of protecting local production had been used. The government hadn’t been hurrying to lift import barriers. Nowadays, Uzbekistan announced its plans to join the WTO. The country is liberalizing the economy. The new government of the country is sure that the Uzbek industry, the market of goods and services are ready for international competition," Jumaboev added.

He also reminded that the country has a cheap and highly skilled workforce. The expert noted that there are 17 million people under the age of 30 in Uzbekistan, and the country itself has modern enterprises operating on local raw materials, as well as small and medium-sized businesses, easily rearrangable according to demand.

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Follow the author on Twitter: @FDolukhanov

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