Uzbekistan and China have set their sights on increasing their trade turnover to $20 billion “in the near future,” following high-level negotiations in Beijing on January 24 between Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Bilateral trade in 2023 hit the $14 billion mark.
A statement on the Uzbek president’s website attributed this trajectory to the “powerful breakthrough made in bilateral relations” in recent years.
Mirziyoyev was fulsome in his gratitude to his host, expressing special thanks to Xi for his “personal attention and support on cooperation issues, particularly in the fight against poverty.” He and Xi then paid tribute to the planned launch in Tashkent of a Luban workshop, a Chinese-funded vocational school. An agreement on the school was signed in November.
A sustained push has been taking place to open up these vocational center across the region over the last year. Kazakhstan in December announced the opening of its own Luban workshop on the campus of Serikbayev East Kazakhstan Technical University.
According to Mirziyoyev’s office, Chinese investment in Uzbekistan's economy has seen a fivefold increase “in recent years.”
Chinese companies are spying strong potential in the renewables sector.
Uzbekistan’s Energy Minister Zhurabek Mirzamakhmudov announced in May at an Uzbek-Chinese business forum in Xi'an, China, that agreements had been reached on construction of renewable energy facilities with a total capacity of 6 gigawatts.
“These are projects involving foreign direct investment of about $5-6 billion dollars,” Mirzamakhmudov said at the time.
Two photovoltaic stations, each with an installed capacity of 500 megawatts, have since the middle of last year been under development by China Gezhouba Group, the foreign investment division of China Energy Engineering Corporation, in the Bukhara and Kashkadarya region, respectively. Segments of both those projects reportedly came online in late 2023.
In a further signal that Beijing intends to sustain the tempo of investment, Mirziyoyev met this week with Wu Fulin, the head of the Export-Import Bank of China, or Eximbank, to talk, among other things, about the lender’s plans to open a branch in Uzbekistan.
“The bank plans to open a regional office in Tashkent and prepare new promising projects for the development of transport and social infrastructure, in industry and in the private sector,” Mirziyoyev’s office said in a statement on the meeting.
In other China-related business this week, Samarkand regional government has agreed to buy 100 electric buses made by Chinese automaker Yutong. Buying the vehicles and building the necessary infrastructure to support them will entail an expenditure of $62 million over a three-year period. Out of that total, $49 million is coming in the form of a long-term loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.