On 17 June 2021, the OECD organised the second EU-supported working group on investment promotion for the government of Tajikistan as part of the EU Central Asia Invest initiative.
The event was an opportunity to support ongoing and future reforms to improve the capabilities to attract foreign investment in Tajikistan. The webinar was conducted as part of the OECD peer review, with the OECD presenting preliminary findings and recommendations, based on an analysis undertaken in 2020-2021. The event brought together senior policy-makers from Tajikistan, alongside development partners, investors and experts from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Opening the session, Executive Director of TajInvest Mr Javokhirlai Muzaffari underlined the importance of the topic, especially given the reduction in global FDI following the COVID-19 pandemic. He gave an overview of Tajikistan’s economic development and highlighted current and planned activities of the State Committee for Investment and State Property (SCISPM) and TajInvest. Mr Stefano Ellero, Head of Co-operation of the EU Delegation to Tajikistan noted recent business climate improvements and named access to information and implementation of laws as two continuing challenges for investors.
Ms Talisa zur Hausen, OECD Policy Analyst, presented preliminary findings and recommendations for discussion. These included the simplification of the institutional structure to promote investment, adopting an overarching strategy, aligning budget with ambitions and needs, adopting digital tools, and increased commitment to investor facilitation and aftercare in order to retain investors.
Ms Zhamilya Turskeldina, Deputy Director of Strategy and Digital Development at KAZAKH INVEST, described the institutional structure of investment promotion in Kazakhstan, consisting of three levels: investment attraction through representatives abroad, including through embassies; inter-ministry co-operation on policy; and Kazakh regional investment services and facilitation. She also highlighted the tailored and specific approach to priority sectors, countries, and companies as a single-window service provider and expert.
Mr Oybek Elmuratov, Deputy Director of the Investment Promotion Agency of Uzbekistan, described recent reforms resulting in dramatic improvements to the investment climate, such as consolidating over 100 legal documents into a single new Law on Investments and creating a single online portal for investors. He also emphasised the importance of Central Asian regional exchange and collaboration to attract investors to the region overall.
Valuable questions and comments were provided by participants, including Mr Narzullo Malikzoda of the Tax Committee of Tajikistan and Ms Elena Som of the US-Tajik Business Council. Mr Malikzoda described recent digitalisation reforms and stated the commitment of the Committee to dialogue on investment issues. Ms Som emphasised the importance of supporting current investors in-country, which then serve as a “magnet” for future investment attraction.
Concluding the webinar, Mr Muzaffari thanked the OECD for the organisation of the event and the substantive presentations. He reiterated the challenges that Tajikistan has faced in improving the business climate in the past two decades, achievements thus far, and continued commitment to further improvements, including as part of the OECD Working Group.