The European Union (EU) has accepted Uzbekistan as a beneficiary country of the special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance (GSP+) in a move recognising the country’s ongoing reforms.
Uzbekistan, whose 35 million people make it Central Asia’s largest country by population size, is taking steps to improve its investment climate after more than two decades of economic isolation that kept foreign and private businesses at a distance. The change has been led by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, once a prime minister under the old regime, through an ambitious programme of unexpectedly swift economic reforms, as well as some political ones. Mirziyoyev has made attracting foreign investors one of the top priorities in his ambitious plan to open Uzbekistan to the outside world.
“The acceptance of Uzbekistan as a beneficiary of GSP+ reflects the recognition of reforms undertaken by the government, in particular to improve the business climate, the judicial system, security services, labour conditions, and administrative accountability and efficiency,” the EU said in a statement.
“It also testifies to consistent positive development in the socio-economic and labour sphere.”
The EU said it had started applying preferential tariffs for products imported from Uzbekistan under the GSP+ arrangement from April 10, 2021.
In addition, under the arrangement, tariffs on two thirds of the product lines from Uzbekistan will be removed, the EU said, creating opportunities for export growth and attracting further investment in the country.
“The sustainable development commitments under GSP+ will further contribute to Uzbekistan’s position as a reliable, forward-looking economic partner,” it said.
Experts say that Uzbekistan’s GSP+ status is an opportunity to support the country in its economic development and sustainable growth.
The EU will continuously monitor the effective implementation of the GSP+ conventions through talks with government officials and other stakeholders as well as in-person monitoring visits “with specific focus on the identified shortcomings.”