On 5 November 2020, the OECD, together with the EU, organised its first capacity-building webinar on investment regulations for policy-makers in Uzbekistan as part of a broader effort to help them improve the legal environment for businesses in the country
The event was an opportunity to discuss policy reforms and challenges for investment in Uzbekistan, and to offer recommendations and good practices. The OECD and international experts exchanged views with senior policymakers and experts responsible for the design and implementation of measures to improve Uzbekistan’s investment climate. This priority area for reform was identified in the OECD project on Improving the Legal Environment for Business in Central Asia as part of the EU Central Asia Invest programme.
Mr Aleksey Sim, Head of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan, and Mr François Bégeot, Head of Co-operation at the European Union Delegation to Uzbekistan, opened the webinar, highlighting the timely need for improving the conditions for FDI attraction, at a time of heightened uncertainty due to the COVID-19 crisis. Both acknowledged Uzbekistan’s substantive reform efforts over recent years, while recognizing that room for improvement remains, in particular in relation to the development of a capital market, green growth, and ensuring the overall stability, predictability and transparency of investment regulations and implementation.
The first session addressed the policy reforms and challenges for investment in Uzbekistan. Mr Luke Mackle (OECD) underlined that, despite improvements in the business environment for investors, concerns remain over the implementation of the new Investment Law, taxation, protection against expropriation, and access to economic justice. Ms Peline Atamer (OECD) then presented key findings on policy advocacy and implementation support provided by Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) in the Eurasia region. In Uzbekistan, the IPA allocates a smaller share of its budget to investment facilitation and aftercare, and policy advocacy functions when compared to regional peers and OECD countries.
The sessions that explored the design and implementation of investment regulations, and experts answered questions posed by policymakers from Uzbekistan. The first session lead by Mr Stephen Thomsen (OECD) focused on the improvement of its design, based on Uzbekistan’s assessment in the OECD FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index. He also addressed questions from the government relating to the membership in international instruments such as the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises and standards for statistical reporting of FDI disbursements.
The second session focused on implementation issues. Mr Philippe Yvergniaux, Director of International Co-operation at the French IPA Business France, discussed good practices on collecting, analysing and using investors’ feedbacks on implementation gaps to inform policy-making and implementation. Mr Yvergniaux then addressed specific questions from the government of Uzbekistan about public-private dialogue mechanisms, and support activities of IPA to match firms and investors.
Participants took part in an instant poll to identify additional priority regulatory issues for investors. Mining, communication, and construction were identified as the sectors having the most significant regulatory burdens for investment. Regulatory improvements regarding customs regulation, land and tax codes were considered as the most pressing priorities, while dispute settlement, improved digitalisation, trade facilitation, and taxation were identified as crucial improvement areas to support FDI attraction. During the open discussions, participants exchanged with panellists on remaining obstacles and policy avenues to address them.
The session was concluded by Mr Sim and Mr Bégeot, thanking the OECD for its continued support, and confirming their readiness to continue the successful co-operation to support investment and economic development in the country.