On November 9, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev addressed the 16th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization. In particular, he noted that “nowadays, the world’s political architecture is indeed changing in front of our eyes, and its global transformation is underway. It is crucially important for member states of our Organization, which have their important place in these complex processes, to act together in unity and seek effective solutions to emerging challenges and threats”.
According to the analysis, ECO economies maintain stable growth rates despite the global crisis. Over the past six years, the GDP of New Uzbekistan has increased one and a half times. By 2030, we seek to double this indicator. It is intended to achieve this target primarily by creating a green economy and a modern infrastructure, providing incentives to the private sector, creating new jobs, and actively attracting foreign investment.
Uzbekistan is in favor of summarizing the implementation of the ECO Vision- 2025, the framework document of the Organization. The President outlined the country’s proposals for a new document “Strategic Objectives of Economic Cooperation-2035”.
Promotion of mutual trade
Last year, the trade turnover between the ECO countries totaled $85 billion. This represents only 8% of the total foreign trade of the Organization’s member-states.
“Regrettably, the years of efforts to develop a preferential trade agreement have not delivered the expected results. There are still many restrictions and problems with barrier-free trade. We must openly admit this and take a new perspective to turn the situation into a positive shift”, the President of Uzbekistan emphasized.
The Head of the state encouraged the adoption of the ECO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. This document focuses on facilitating trade in goods and services, removing technical and non-tariff barriers, digitalizing customs, phytosanitary, and veterinary procedures, and developing electronic commerce.
According to preliminary estimates, these measures will enable reaching at least a twofold growth in mutual trade by 2035.
Strengthening transport and communication connectivity
“We need to fully utilize the potential of transcontinental transport corridors that pass through our territories and link us with major markets in the Asia-Pacific region, South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe”, Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted.
The launch of the China – Kyrgyzstan – Uzbekistan and Trans-Afghan multimodal roads in the coming future meets the interests of all member states.
The Leader of the country encouraged other members to join the document, adopted at the meeting of transport ministers held on November 2, 2023, in Tashkent on the development of the “Uzbekistan – Turkmenistan – Iran – Türkiye” Transport Corridor, and optimize mutual tariffs and fees.
Uzbekistan has digitized freight documents with Azerbaijan and Türkiye and is implementing similar projects with other countries. The President of Uzbekistan proposed to establish ECO’s Digital Transport and Customs Office in Tashkent to widely implement and effectively coordinate these modern systems.
Promotion of industrial cooperation and business ties, forming industrial hubs
Uzbekistan developed the Program of Joint Actions to increase the flow of mutual investments, ensure their protection, and deepen industrial cooperation. The document has been submitted to the Secretariat of the Organization. The Program seeks to promote new joint projects in chemistry, energy, geology, textiles, leather, footwear, food, pharmaceuticals, and construction.
“We wish to expand our partnership with the ECO Trade and Development Bank for this noble cause”, Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.
The Fifth Business Forum, which was held yesterday in Tashkent and attended by heads of chambers of commerce and industry and many of Uzbekistan’s companies, demonstrated the great potential we have in the private sector.
“We propose to establish within ECO an Interregional Industrial Exhibition and hold its first event in Uzbekistan in 2024”, the President noted.
Ensuring guaranteed energy security
By 2030, Uzbekistan seeks to create 25 gigawatts of renewable energy sources and increase the share of renewables in the energy mix to 40%. This year alone, the country is launching 2 gigawatts of significant wind and solar power plants and taking the initial steps in green hydrogen production.
“We are ready for open dialogue and exchange of experience with all countries in these areas”, Shavkat Mirziyoyev emphasized.
The President proposed establishing a new Council of Ministers of Energy within the Organization to discuss cooperation issues and conduct systemic work thoroughly.
Intensification of contacts in addressing climate change and environmental protection
The President thanked all countries for supporting the initiative to establish a High-level Dialogue Platform for Ecology within the Organization. Uzbekistan is ready to organize its first meeting as part of the Samarkand Climate Forum in 2024.
The Head of state invited representatives of the ECO member states to take an active part in the committee meeting to review the assessment of the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in Uzbekistan the following week.
Enhancing cooperation in the tourism sector
The ECO countries accommodate 90 UNESCO World Heritage sites, and nearly 80 million tourists visit the countries annually.
“Given the fact that cross-border routes are becoming increasingly popular, I propose to introduce Joint Tourist Routes and increase joint tourist programs within the “Silk Road” Tourism Brand”, the President said.
The Leader of Uzbekistan proposed to establish a new Consultative Committee on Tourism under the Secretariat of the Organization, consisting of tourism departments and leading specialists of the member states. “We are ready to host its first meeting next year in the city of Shakhrisabz, declared the tourism capital of our Organization”, the President of Uzbekistan said.
Bringing people together through deepening cultural and humanitarian cooperation
The annual organization of Culture, Arts and Cinema Weeks in our countries, the establishment of Creative Youth Festivals and Innovative Cooperation Platform, and the strengthening cooperation in fundamental scientific areas will effectively promote relations between ECO member states.
Israeli-Palestinian war in the Middle East
“Regrettably, it is the civilian population, particularly women, children, and the elderly, who suffer the most and become victims of these violent conflicts. The risk of war spreading throughout the region is becoming increasingly real. The conflict must not be allowed to escalate into a large-scale war. We urge both sides to cease fire, start peace negotiations, and come to a reasonable compromise”, Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted.
“We once again reiterate our firm position on the Palestinian people’s right to have their own state, as confirmed by the UN resolutions”, the Leader of Uzbekistan added.
The President drew attention to the fact that Afghanistan, a member of the ECO, is absent in today’s summit.
“In the face of complex challenges, we cannot abandon the multiethnic people of Afghanistan, who have been our close neighbors for centuries. It is imperative that we actively engage this country in the process of regional integration as a necessary condition for our sustainable development”, the Head of state noted. He urged to increase humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and address the profound social and economic problems through collective responsibility and effective mechanisms.
Gayrat Khonnazarov, UzA