Uzbekistan Initiative Papers No. 5, February 2014
By Vladimir Paramonov
From 2003 onwards China’s economic activity in Uzbekistan has become more visible. The deterioration of relations between Uzbekistan and the U.S./West in 2004-05 and the landmark state visit of Chinese leader Hu Jintao to Tashkent in June 2004 gave impetus to Sino-Uzbek economic relations.
Islam Karimov’s visit to China in June 2012 resulted in agreements and contracts amounting to $5.3 billion and a strategic partnership declaration. In September 2013 Xi Jinping’s first state visit resulted in projects totaling $15 billion and a treaty of amity and cooperation.
Tashkent has been persistent in its attempts to reorient China’s economic presence in the country toward the development of industrial cooperation to overcome the “natural resource component” in its economic relations with China.
The Uzbek-Chinese high technology industrial park set up in March 2013 has a special role in the development of industrial cooperation. The industrial park takes the form of a Special Industrial Zone (SIZ) known as ‘Jizzaq’ with a branch in the Syrdarya region.
The interest of Chinese companies is focused on a number of sectors, especially the fuel and energy complex and related industries.
China has significantly increased its economic presence providing targeted loans for Chinese exports and services. However, the overall scale of China’s economic footprint in Uzbekistan is still relatively small.