Uzbekistan hopes to team up with Turkish businesspeople in petrochemicals: Official

Uzbekistan hopes to cooperate with Turkish businesspeople in the petrochemicals industry, said a top Uzbek official in a joint meeting in Istanbul on Feb. 27.

“We hope to work with our Turkish partners in petrochemicals. We can also work together on the extraction and processing of mines such as gold, silver and uranium in Uzbekistan,” said Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov at the Turkish-Uzbek Business Forum, which was organized by the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK), as quoted by Anadolu Agency.

Azimov also noted that Turkey was the first country that recognized Uzbekistan’s independence after the fall of the Soviet Union.

“Uzbek people will never forget that,” he added.

Azimov said Uzbekistan had doubled the railway network in recent years, adding that they would welcome Turkish companies to invest in the country’s railway and highway projects.

He said Uzbekistan is one of the most rapidly growing economies of the world with an around 8 percent of growth rate, adding that the country realized a number of key reforms to maintain its macroeconomic stability.

10 sector to cooperate

Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said the two countries have identified “nine or 10” sectors to boost cooperation, from textiles to tourism.

“We have decided to boost our economic and trade ties … We will speed up our trade ties in several sectors to further increase our bilateral trade volume, which is currently at around $1.2 billion,” Zeybekci noted, adding that the two countries aimed to launch joint economic meetings by the second half of 2017.

He also said Turkey and Uzbekistan needed to modernize and update an existing investment agreement, which was clinched in 1995.

Mehmet Büyükekşi, the DEİK vice chair and Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) head, said the visit by Azimov was of great importance on the road to further boosting bilateral ties.

Büyükekşi also noted that the two countries had great potential for further business cooperation in many sectors, especially in health, textile, mining, tourism and leather goods.

Uzbekistan should seek membership in TÜRKSOY

Tashkent-based political analyst Anvar Nazirov said Uzbekistan ought to seek membership in TÜRKSOY as an opening gambit in the budding rapprochement. “Turkey is the world’s 18th largest economy and has good investment potential for Uzbekistan. It is also a good time to resume the broadcasts of Turkish television stations … so as to reduce reliance on Russian television stations,” Nazirov said.

The interests in broadening economic partnership are mutual. Foreign direct investment into Turkey fell by more than 50 percent in the first half of 2016, even before the attempted coup, which only further depressed economic confidence in the country.