Promising opportunities for Belarus-Uzbekistan trade and economic cooperation

№ 4, 2020
Author:

Job title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of Uzbekistan

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of Uzbekistan Leonid Marinich provided comments on the bilateral trade between Belarus and Uzbekistan in January – August 2020.

Leonid Adamovich, last year was record-breaking in terms of trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Uzbekistan, and, precisely, bilateral trade volume. Apparently, the plans for 2020 were even more ambitious. Could you tell us how has the global epidemiological situation influenced the implementation of these plans?

Indeed, the mutual trade turnover in goods and services reached a record level at the end of 2019, exceeding USD 325 million. Export of the Belarusian goods and services to Uzbekistan thus totaled USD 272 million.        

Despite the challenges caused by the spread of coronavirus pandemic, this year's efforts have allowed to avoid a dramatic decline in business activity and support the growth of exports of Belarusian goods to Uzbekistan.

In January – August 2020, the total Belarus-Uzbekistan trade turnover amounted to USD 148.2 million (97.6 percent as compared to the level of January –August 2019). The volume of Belarusian goods export to Uzbekistan (excluding oil and oil products) made up USD 119.3 million or 100.6 percent to the corresponding period last year. Import of Uzbek goods – USD 27.6 million (88.4 percent).

If we consider specific cooperation domains, in which areas have Belarusian companies managed to maintain their positions on the Uzbek market? And where the supplies decrease has been observed?

Despite the difficulties caused by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, our exporters are making efforts not only to preserve the traditional capacity of the Belarusian industry in the Uzbek market but also to develop new product niches.

This year the commodity composition of Belarusian export to Uzbekistan is quite diverse with more than 310 items representing practically all branches of production of our country.

It is typical that in comparison with the last year a lot of new Belarusian goods have appeared at the Uzbek market – 83 positions of over USD 15 million. These are the products of petrochemical, light and woodworking industries, machine tools and hygiene items.

Products of Belarusian agriculture and processing industry are widely available in the Uzbek market.

Belarusian enterprises have significantly increased the supply of beef, poultry, sugar, milk and condensed cream, cheese and farmer's cheese to Uzbekistan. Uzbek consumers already have the opportunity to taste confectionery products from Belarus that are in stock in large retail chains in the capital and regions of Uzbekistan.

Belarusian producers of medicines, vaccines, vitamins and disinfectants have expanded their presence in Uzbekistan.

At the same time, unfortunately, following the results of eight months, the export of Belarusian trucks, tractors and spare parts, combine harvesters and other agricultural machinery has dropped.

Together with Uzbek partners of our industry flagship companies, efforts are being made both to deepen production cooperation and to use possible financial instruments of export promotion. In particular, these include various forms of export crediting and leasing.

How could you assess the overall industrial cooperation between Belarusian and Uzbek partners established?

More than 80 organizations with Belarusian capital are currently operating in Uzbekistan. Most of them have been set up over the past two years.

One of the priority areas of bilateral cooperation is mechanical engineering. Joint production projects with Uzbek partners are carried out in Tashkent and other regions of Uzbekistan by such Belarusian flagships as "Minsk Tractor Works" OJSC, "Minsk Automobile Plant" OJSC, "Amkodor" OJSC.

The official visit of the President of Belarus in September 2018 and the official return visit of the President of Uzbekistan in August last year, as well as the Forum of Regions of Belarus and Uzbekistan as part of the visit, and national exhibitions of the two countries in Tashkent and Minsk, have all given an impetus to the development of business activity of Belarusian enterprises in Uzbekistan. Bilateral visits and negotiations of business representatives, as well as regional leaders, have resulted in new promising projects for the manufacture of medical products, welding electrodes and shoes in Uzbekistan.

In general, it should be noted that exhibitions, forums and presentations are the decisive initiatives in promoting Belarusian goods in the market of Uzbekistan. This is not only driven by the specific nature of the East, but as well, there's an urgent need to present the quality of our products directly to the consumer.

This year's quarantine restrictions have predetermined some disappointing amendments to our plans with Uzbek partners.

We sincerely hope that the situation with the spread of coronavirus will settle, transport links between our countries will be fully restored, and many significant joint bilateral events will be held so that to promote Belarusian exports and cooperation projects.

In particular, I am referring to the 7th Session of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Bilateral Cooperation between the Republic of Belarus and the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as a large-scale Made in Belarus exhibition to be held in Tashkent.

What cooperation areas are currently considered promising?

Despite the considerable distance between our countries, there are prospects for increased sales of woodworking products. Belarusian furniture, wallpaper, various types of paper and cardboard are already supplied to Uzbekistan.

The construction boom in Tashkent and other major cities of Uzbekistan, supported by governmental housing construction programs opens up new opportunities to promote the sales of Belarusian sanitary ware and ceramic tiles, refrigerators and washing machines, gas and electric stoves.

Belarusian manufacturers of public transport, namely buses and electric buses, are aimed at taking part in tenders to modernize the urban transport infrastructure of the capital and other cities of Uzbekistan. To this end, we have the required technological capacity, successful test results and extensive experience in implementing similar projects in other countries.

Thus, Belarusian manufacturers discover new opportunities to ramp up export sales to the receptive market of the Republic of Uzbekistan.