On 24 November, the OECD, together with the EU and the government of Tajikistan, organised a virtual roundtable to discuss the state of investment promotion in Tajikistan and share experiences with peers from Eurasia and OECD countries.
The webinar was an opportunity to discuss the draft OECD Peer Review Note on Enhancing Investment Promotion in Tajikistan to offer recommendations and share OECD good practices, and to exchange views with peers from Eurasia and OECD member countries, including France, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Turkey.
The webinar was opened by H.E. Professor Aleksander Surdej, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Poland to the OECD and Chair of the OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Roundtable. He described the review as an important milestone for Tajikistan, amidst COVID-19 and the need for more targeted investment promotion efforts. The Chair of the State Committee of Investment and State Property Management, Mr Sadi Qodirzoda, declared investment attraction as a policy priority for the current recovery in the short-run and for sustainable economic development in the long-run. He mentioned numerous reforms undertaken to that end, ranging from simplified administrative procedures to the renewed tax code. Mr Francesco Straniero, Attaché and Co-operation Officer from the European Union Delegation to Tajikistan,discussed the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Tajikistan’s economy and welcomed the government’s efforts to mitigate the structural weaknesses exacerbated by the crisis. He ended his remarks by highlighting which active role the State Committee can have to support investors along their journey and reaffirmed the support from the European Union.
The panel discussion offered an opportunity to discuss the measures implemented by Tajikistan to enhance investment promotion. Ms Talisa zur Hausen, OECD Policy Analyst, presented the main findings of the Peer Review Note. She first described Tajikistan’s need for more – and more diversified – FDI, since the past years have been characterised by high concentration in terms of both countries and sectors. In order to do so, it remains even more crucial for an IPA to promote the country to investors and to do so in a targeted manner. Ms zur Hausen also noted that Tajikistan could strengthen its institutional setting and strategy as well as ensure a well-functioning facilitation system. Mr Ayubjon Maruf Solehzoda, First Deputy Chair of the Tax Committee under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, concurred with the main conclusions of the report and described recent reforms on taxation and its administration for foreign investors.
In his role as lead reviewer, Mr Tornike Zirakishvili, Deputy Director at Enterprise Georgia, presented his observations of the report, and drew on the experiences of his Agency. He detailed its collaboration with the IFC to determine targeted sectors, direct tools to contact investors and image building activities. Ms Diana Ablyakimova, Project Manager at Kazakh invest, offered some insights based on Kazakhstan’s investment promotion strategy supported by the OECD. The establishment of the agency in 2017 and the subsequent measures to improve sector selectivity, comprehensive messaging and new creative digital channels to reach investors have made Kazakhstan the second largest recipient of FDI among transition economies in 2021. Mr Philippe Yvergniaux, Director at Business France, underlined investors feedback to adapt the IPA’s services and the importance of quantitative objectives determined contractually with the Ministry of the Economy to monitor the agency’s activities.
An instant poll of participants showed high levels of support for events such as sector-specific trade fairs and business fora to better target investment promotion efforts. The poll also revealed an overwhelming majority designating objectives for target sectors and countries as the most important factors to put in place a successful investment promotion strategy, followed by the development of a budget and the identification of investors’ motivations.
The session was concluded by Ambassador Surdej underlining the importance of collaboration with the OECD and the EU in improving Tajikistan’s attractiveness for foreign investors. He noted that the report remained a work-in-progress, as inputs from the meeting and other stakeholders would be integrated into the final version.