Overview of best prospect sectors, major infrastructure projects, significant government procurements and business opportunities
Banking: The government plans to transition the banking sector from public to private capital, with a target of privatizing 60% of the banking industry by 2025. State-owned banks are in the process of modernizing their client service systems, transitioning to international financial reporting standards, and improving corporate governance to increase their attractiveness to foreign investors. The finance minister announced that one large state-owned bank will be privatized in 2021 and another three are scheduled to do so in 2022. OTP Bank (Hungary) is the leading candidate to privatize Uzbekistan’s Ipoteka (Mortgage) bank.
Education: The government intends to increase the number of students attending university (particularly in technical fields) to 50% of all high school graduates by 2030 and plans to build 30 new universities to accommodate them. The government wants to attract foreign universities interested in establishing branches in Uzbekistan or creating dual degree programs with local universities.
Tourism: Developing tourism is among the major priorities of the Government and the number of foreign tourists was rapidly increasing until the pandemic, though tourist visits have fallen by more than 77 percent since its onset. The Government created incentives for construction of international class hotels and other infrastructure in the Great Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva and connecting them to Tashkent.
Oil and Gas: Projects in the oil and gas industry are intended to attract about $36.5 billion in investment from various sources through 2030. These projects may represent good export opportunities for U.S. suppliers of oil and gas extraction, transportation, processing technologies, and oil services.
Public-Private Partnerships: Under Uzbekistan’s law on Public-Private Partnerships, there are new opportunities for foreign investors to participate in large projects, with tenders operated by the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Development Agency (https://pppd.uz/en/projects-custom/ )under the Ministry of Finance of Uzbekistan. Since 2018, foreign bidders have signed PPP agreements to implement several fossil fuel and renewable energy projects.
Food Processing and Packaging: Growing external demand for food products produced in Uzbekistan and efforts to improve the productivity of the agricultural sector create export opportunities for suppliers of food preservation, processing, and packaging technologies as well as transportation and logistics solutions.
Construction: Construction is one of the most promising industries in Uzbekistan, which demonstrated a continual growth rate of 15-20% per year until the pandemic. The industry grew by 9.1% in 2020 and continued to drive the wider economic growth.
ICT: An ambitious government program aimed at developing a national information-communication system and upgrading communications infrastructure to the 5G standard creates increasing demand for IT solutions in both the public and private sectors of the economy. The government adopted its Digital Uzbekistan – 2030 Strategy in October 2020 to intensify works in this direction.
Chemical industry: The 2019-2030 national program for the development of the chemical industry has identified 31 projects with a total value of $12 billion. The government plans to increase production of higher value-added goods through processing of raw materials.
SOE procurement: Starting from July 5, 2021, President Mirziyoyev obliged large state-owned enterprises and several ministries to conduct their procurement only through public tenders.