EBRD enters new stage of engagement with Uzbekistan

By Anton Usov

Bank opens office in Tashkent and provides US$ 120 million for new projects

Phil Bennett, Betsy Nelson and the Tashkent team led by Alkis Vryenios Drakinos.

Bank opens office in Tashkent and provides US$ 120 million for new projects

Following the launch of a broad reform programme in Uzbekistan, the EBRD is taking its engagement with the Central Asian country to a new level by opening an office and signing the first new projects since 2010.

EBRD First Vice President Phil Bennett opened the Bank’s new Resident Office in the capital Tashkent today and said: “We are very pleased to be expanding our presence in the country and opening a new office. We are confident that in the context of the wide reforms that are being undertaken we will very quickly build a strong pipeline of projects.  The EBRD can be a strategic partner for Uzbekistan, who can bring not only much-needed financing but also best international business standards and corporate governance practices.”

Demonstrating the EBRD’s new stage of engagement with Uzbekistan the Bank also signed three loan agreements during First Vice President Bennett’s visit for a combined total of US$ 120 million. The largest will be a US$ 100 million facility to the National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity of the Republic of Uzbekistan for on-lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and trade finance. At the same time the agribusiness company LLC JV Agromir Juice and the medical supplier Mutabar Medical Standart LLC will receive around US$ 10 million loans each for their expansion and growth. Finally, the EBRD signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan on joint work to improve competitiveness of SMEs in the context of the Bank's Small Business Initiative.

The EBRD’S current objectives in Uzbekistan are to support domestic SMEs, promote trade finance and cross-border cooperation as well as facilitate foreign direct investment that will result in the transfer of technologies and know-how and thus the improvement of the competitiveness of the Uzbek economy. It is expected that the EBRD Board of Directors will agree a new country strategy for Uzbekistan in 2018, which will set out longer-term strategic priorities.

EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti visited Tashkent in March 2017 and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Uzbekistan launching this new cooperation.

The EBRD is the largest institutional investor in Central Asia, with close to €11.6 billion (US$ 12.3 billion) committed to projects in a variety of sectors, from infrastructure to agriculture, with a focus on private sector development.

Between 1992 and 2010, the EBRD invested €894 million in Uzbekistan in 54 projects. Entering a new stage of engagement in the country, the Bank has already identified a number of possible new projects, some of which are due to be signed by the end of 2017, with more to follow in 2018.