Summary of economic reforms which took place since the Interim President, now the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, has been heading the Government:
1. On 5 October 2016 H.E. Shavkat Mirziyoev signed a decree to accelerate development of entrepreneurship, protection of private property and improvement of the business climate in Uzbekistan. The decree tasked the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank and the State Tax Committee to develop, within three months, a number of proposals designed to “integrate market mechanisms of currency regulation and currency rate policy, stimulate growth of export potential, actively attract foreign direct investment and increase competitiveness of national manufacturers in external markets”.
- Following the decree, starting from 1 January 2017 all kinds of unscheduled inspections of businesses (including tax inspections), except for inspections carried out due to the closure of an organisation, have been abolished in Uzbekistan. The President’s decree also abolished counter inspections of the activities of business entities, including in criminal cases. Companies will be checked on a planned cycle, normally once in three years. Furthermore, entrepreneurs will not be subject to administrative and criminal liability if they are first-time offenders and voluntarily pay compensation for debts or damage related to their business activities. The changes initiated by the President do not apply to short-term inspections based on complaints from individuals and organisations regarding violations of laws.
- A decision has been made to establish a separate post of an Ombudsman for protection of right and interested of businesses. It will help to ensure legal protection of business entities and represent their interests in relations with state authorities. In order to implement the provisions of the decree an integrated programme was approved on measures in 5 priority areas, including consistent development of entrepreneurial activity, the comprehensive protection of private property, qualitative improvement of the business climate. It was also noted that it is expected to adopt a range of relevant laws that will meet international standards.
2. The President of Uzbekistan, H.E. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, signed a law “On combating corruption” on 3 January 2017. The document came into force on 4 January 2017. The document is directed at complex legislative regulation of legal relations in fighting corruption, improving efficiency of anti-corruption measures conducted by the state bodies, organizations and institutes of civil society, as well as full elimination of corruption from all spheres of public life, creating intolerance to corruption among public via improving legal awareness and legal culture. The law envisages creation of Republican inter-departmental commission on combating corruption, which will coordinate activities on fighting corruption and strengthen cooperation between various bodies. It will include representatives of public businesses unions and other institutes of civil society. It was noted that adoption of the document will create necessary legal guarantees on protecting rights and freedoms of the citizens and allow preventing illegal encroachment on private property, illegal interference in businesses activities and help to grow entrepreneurship activities and investment attractiveness of Uzbekistan.
3. According to the latest news Uzbekistan may adopt a law “On international commercial arbitration”. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan developed the draft law. The document is aimed at regulating relations in the field of creation, activity and abolishment of international commercial arbitration courts in Uzbekistan. The document will regulate all stages of arbitration process.
4. Uzbekistan plans to create four new free economic zones. In particular, in Urgut district of Samarkand region – free economic zone “Urgut”; in Gijduvan district of Bukhara region – free economic zone “Gijduvan”; in the city of Kokand of Fergana region – free economic zone “Kokand” and in Khazarasp District of Khorezm region – free economic zone “Khazarasp”. Also, the portal of Regulation impact assessment system has published the draft decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On establishment of small industrial zone in the city of Yangier of Syrdarya region” for public comments.
5. The draft decree of the President of Uzbekistan “On creation of pharmaceutical industrial zones “Boysun-farm”, “Bostonlik-farm”, “Zaamin-farm” and “Syrdarya-farm” was published at the single portal of interactive state services for discussion. According to the decree, the Government plans to create 4 pharmaceutical industrial zones: “Baysun-farm” in Boysun district of Surkhandarya region; “Bostonlik-farm” in Bostanlik district of Tashkent region; “Zaamin-farm” in Zaaming district of Jizzakh region and “Syrdarya-farm” in Syrdarya district of Syrdarya region.
6. It was announced that the Government of Uzbekistan is planning to carry out wide-scale currency reforms in order to develop internal currency market and improve its efficiency, as well as to improve conditions for foreign trade economic activities of business entities. It follows from the draft Decree of the President “On priority directions of monetary policy” which was published for public comments. The document envisages measures on liberalization of currency policy. However, there has not been any further news about it since the document was published.
7. Following the Presidential Decree on introduction of changes to the Decree “On additional measures on ordering export-import operations” issued in 1995, the ban on export of the following items from Uzbekistan was lifted: cereals, flour and flour products, beef and chicken, meat and dairy products, sugar, vegetable oil, leather, fur and wool, antique furniture, non-ferrous metals, plastic packaging, silk and silk materials.
8. Presidential Decree “On measures on ensuring rapid development of tourism industry in Uzbekistan” was signed. According to the Decree, the State Committee on development of tourism of Uzbekistan, which was created on the base of abolished national company “Uzbektourism”, is the authorized state body in the sphere of tourism.
- The Decree stipulates that that the payment for hotel accommodation and other types of accommodation provided to foreign citizens and persons without citizenship has to be made in freely convertible currency only.
- The Government of Uzbekistan has postponed simplification of visas obtaining procedure for tourists with 27 countries (including the UK) which was initially planned to come into force on 1 April 2017 until 1 January 2021. The Decree, which was signed on 22 December 2016, states that the decision to postpone was made in order to create required conditions and guarantee safety of lives and health of foreign tourists and the country’s citizens.
9. The President announced the year 2017 in Uzbekistan as the “Year of dialogue with the people and people’s interests”. Under this initiative the Government agencies made sure that each has a virtual reception for reporting of problems, making queries, complaints and suggestions by the population, building on the example by the President who introduced his reception when he started heading the Government in September 2016. The Ministry for Foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Trade of Uzbekistan launched its virtual reception in November 2016. Its aim is to further improve the quality of work with requests from individuals and legal entities, and increase its efficiency which can be accessed using the official website of the Ministry. Individuals and legal entities can address their queries, requests, complaints and suggestions directly to the Minister 24/7. The requests can be sent directly using an online form of the website, single portal of interactive state services or telephone helpline.