Remarks by Under Secretary Lago - October 17, 2022

Tashkent, Uzbekistan
October 17, 2022

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you for that kind introduction, Chargé Poletes. It is such a pleasure to be back in Tashkent this evening to celebrate AmCham Uzbekistan’s 25th year. 

I am honored to be here alongside First Deputy Chairperson of the Senate of the Republic of Uzbekistan Safoyev. It is only fitting that we share this podium tonight, since the partnership between our governments—strengthened through cooperation with AmCham Uzbekistan—does so much to advance the Uzbekistani economy and the interests of U.S. companies operating in its dynamic and promising private sector. 

I would also like to acknowledge the presence of Deputy Minister Abidov from the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade. I so enjoyed our meeting earlier today.

My thanks as well to Oybek Khalilov and Tatyana Bystrushkina for their leadership in organizing tonight’s festivities. I have had the good fortune of meeting with AmChams around the world, and this group reflects the organized, focused, mission driven and lively approach that make your organizations so effective. Congratulations on your history of accomplishments over a quarter century of effective partnership, advocacy, and engagement. 

I cannot think of a better way to end a long day of business meetings in Tashkent than here with all of you—the beating heart of the U.S. business community in Uzbekistan. I last visited Uzbekistan in 2010. Wow! What a difference. Immediately upon arriving, I was struck by a renewed sense of optimism and energy. It is abundantly clear that this is an exciting time to be in Uzbekistan, and especially to do business in Uzbekistan. 

This matches the encouraging reports that I have heard from American companies that are achieving success here. My colleagues have said it many times, and I am glad to see it for myself: “Uzbekistan is open for business.”

Over the past five years, promising economic change has come to Uzbekistan. We have seen the national government commit to reform, and then follow through to demonstrate its seriousness about acting on that commitment. We are hopeful that our Uzbekistani partners will continue to make positive changes to support a level playing field, and to foster a favorable climate for trade and investment—and we know that AmCham will continue to be an effective advocate and partner every step of the way. 

With reform driving continued momentum, there is immense potential for our bilateral commercial trade. While trade has rebounded from pandemic-related lows, last year the United States was only Uzbekistan’s 16th largest trading partner. We see room for significant growth to match our deepening cooperation, and I am confident that we can climb up that ranking by my next visit. To that end, I welcome ideas and suggestions—from our Uzbekistani government partners and the companies here tonight—on how we can grow bilateral trade and foster deeper commercial ties.

For our part, the U.S. Department of Commerce is committed to supporting American companies pursuing opportunities in Uzbekistan, and we are working closely with U.S. industry at home and abroad to spread the word. Just this year, we have partnered with our Uzbekistani counterparts to hold events promoting U.S. small modular nuclear reactors, medical technologies, water conservation products, and transportation and logistics solutions to meet supply chain challenges. The bottom line is that U.S. businesses are eager to help Uzbekistan meet its development, energy, information technology and other ambitions—and we stand ready to support their efforts. 

This includes supporting more robust people-to-people ties, a key ingredient in business development.  In particular, we have seen ample interest from Uzbekistani business professionals in our Special American Business Internship Training, or SABIT, programs.  SABIT brings businesspeople to the United States for invaluable training and exposure to U.S. business practices. And last year we were pleased to welcome Uzbekistani entrepreneurs to our SelectUSA Investment Summit to showcase their ideas and innovations.  

Indeed, just as we want to share the promise of Uzbekistan with American companies, so too do we want to welcome and support Uzbekistani companies exploring expansion and investment in the United States. Our Department of Commerce and Embassy Tashkent teams would welcome hosting Uzbekistani companies at American trade shows, as well as at our 2023 SelectUSA Investment Summit on May 1-4, where we can help grow our commercial relationship by facilitating investment in the United States. 

Whether expanding U.S. business in Uzbekistan, supporting investment from Uzbekistan in the U.S., or advancing bilateral policy priorities to support the commercial enabling environment, with the support of AmCham Uzbekistan—and all of you here tonight—I am confident that we will build on this year’s many successes and carry forward our positive momentum into 2023. 

Once again, thank you very much to AmCham Uzbekistan for the opportunity to celebrate the past 25 years of your dedicated support to the foreign business community.  We look forward to all that we will accomplish together over the next 25 years. Rahmat.