On 1 December 2022, the OECD, in co-operation with the Strategic Reforms Agency (SRA) in Uzbekistan, held a webinar to discuss the OECD’s FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index and Uzbekistan’s latest results in that index. The event was organised as part of the OECD Policy Component of the EU Central Asia Invest initiative and brought together representatives of the OECD, the European Union, and the public and private sectors in Uzbekistan.
Opening the webinar, Mr Rustamkhon Azizov, Acting Deputy Director of the Strategic Reforms Agency in Uzbekistan, expressed his gratitude for the co-operation with the OECD and for the European Union’s financial support. He mentioned Uzbekistan’s recent endeavours to attract more FDI, such as the fight against corruption and the creation of 22 free economic zones. He also reminded the audience of the ambitious goals of the Development Strategy 2022-2026, which aims, inter alia, at improving the business environment and increasing the share of the private sector in GDP to 80%.
Mr Elbek Khodjaev, Programme Manager at the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Uzbekistan, mentioned the government’s recent efforts to improve the investment climate, such as the systematisation of existing legislation. He also stressed the need for further structural reforms to reduce the presence of the State in the economy. At last, he mentioned the work of several international organisations, including that of the European Union, to support the government in improving the business environment in Uzbekistan.
Mr Fernando Mistura, Economist and Policy Analyst in the OECD Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, presented the OECD’s FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index methodology and Uzbekistan’s 2021 results. He explained that the index evaluates statutory restrictions and the admission and treatment of foreign investors in a given country. The tool can be used to benchmark a country’s investment-policy regime against peers, to monitor and evaluate reform progress over time, and to assess performance in attracting FDI for a given level of statutory restrictions. He then presented Uzbekistan’s latest results in the index, which show that the country’s level of discrimination against foreign investors is the lowest in Central Asia and close to the OECD average, with restrictions concentrated in relatively few sectors (media, financial services and business services). Finally, he discussed the index’s upcoming methodology update considering previous lessons learned.
During a very fruitful Q&A session, participants raised questions related to data collection, the change over time in Uzbekistan’s performance on the index, the limits of the tool, the impact of banking and financial services restrictions on the results, and, finally, questions related to potential recommendations.
Concluding the webinar, Mr William Tompson, Head of the OECD Eurasia Division, thanked the audience for the active discussions and highlighted that this index serves a specific purpose – to identify statutory barriers and sectors that appear more or less restrictive; nevertheless, the index does not intend to be exhaustive as there can be other, non-statutory barriers to FDI attraction.