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uzbekistan

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  UZBEKISTAN

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
447,400

Population
22,098,000

Principal
ethnic groups

Uzbeks 71.4%
Russians 8.3%
Tajiks 4.7%
Kazaks 4.1%

Capital
Tashkent

Currency
Uzbek Sum

President
Islam Karimov

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Background:
Russia conquered Uzbekistan in the late 19th century. Stiff resistance to the Red Army after World War I was eventually suppressed and a socialist republic set up in 1925. During the Soviet era, intensive production of "white gold" (cotton) and grain led to overuse of agrochemicals and the depletion of water supplies, which have left the land poisoned and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry. Independent since 1991, the country seeks to gradually lessen its dependence on agriculture while developing its mineral and petroleum reserves. Current concerns include insurgency by Islamic militants based in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, a non-convertible currency, and the curtailment of human rights and democratisation.

Update No: 253

The Uzbeks are great beneficiaries of the current world crisis, at least in their neck of the woods. They have a new agreement on cooperation with the Americans, who are now omnipresent in Uzbekistan.
The unfolding of events in Afghanistan was highly welcome in Tashkent, the triumph of the Northern Alliance and the rout of the Taleban. Now the Uzbeks have a significant figure in the Afghan leadership, General Dostrum, an ethnic Uzbek, while the 3,000 - strong Islamic Movement for Uzbekistan (IMU) has been destroyed.
The IMU had long targeted Karimov for assassination, helping to explain the extremely tight security his regime enforces. Anyone suspected of Islamic fundamentalist fervour is dealt with harshly.
The human rights record of the country is terrible. But the Bush Administration is not going to make a fuss about that at a time like this. Uzbekistan has proved to be the most useful ally the US has had in Central Asia; and it can expect a pay-off in economic terms eventually. 
The economy could do with an infusion of foreign investment. The investment climate needs to be changed; fiscal and legal rules are a problem. But now that there are so many Americans around there certainly will be changes ahead.
It is not just the Americans but the British who are coming in, having their own forces deployed there. British and Japanese investors are already there. An upsurge in investment, trade and growth can be expected. Uzbekistan is having an excellent war.

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AGRICULTURE

Uzbekistan plans to increase cotton output


Uzbekistan plans to increase its gross harvest of raw cotton in 2002 to 3.75m tonnes, which is 14 per cent more than this year, head of the Uzbek Agriculture and Water Resources Ministry's cotton department, Abdurakhmad Muborakov, told Interfax News Agency.
Uzbekistan's gross harvest of raw cotton in 2001 was about 3.3m tonnes against 3.03m tonnes in 2000.
Uzbekistan is the world's fifth largest producer and second largest exporter of cotton fibre. The country produces 3.5-3.7m tonnes of raw cotton and 1-1.2m tonnes of cotton fibre annually, and exports over 85 per cent of its cotton fibre.

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AVIATION

Chkalov closes aircraft agreement with India


The only aircraft maker in ex-Soviet Central Asia has won a US$150m contract from India, giving one of the country's main industries a big boost.
The Chkalov aviation plant in the Uzbekistan capital, Tashkent, is to resume production of the I1-78 refuelling plane for the first time in nearly a decade, the plant announced recently, and reported by the BBC.
The company also started production of the I1-114-100 in conjunction with US engine maker Pratt & Whitney last year, signing a contract to supply three to Singapore, India and China.
The Indian defence ministry ordered six of the I1-78s in October and paid an advance of US$23m. This allowed work on the first plane to begin, as company officials told reporters. Each plane will take about 18 months to build.
The plant said it could fulfil the Indian contract, even though its machinery has sat idle for years and many employees have long since found new jobs. The I1-78 was first released in 1984 and designed as either a refueller for long-range fighter jets or for fire fighting.
It is reminded that the plane maker had exhibited its aircraft at last year's Paris international air show at Le Bourget, including many made years ago like the I1-78. It is also still producing the I1-76 cargo plane, wings for Antanovs and is developing a cargo version of the I1-114, which is currently undergoing airworthiness tests.
It is noteworthy that the government of President, Islam Karimov, who is extremely supportive of the aviation sector, is the majority shareholder in the Chkalov aviation plant with 25.6 per cent in private hands.

Uzbek airline to launch flights to Canada in 2002

The Uzbekistan Airways national airline is planning to start regular flights to Canada in 2002, an Uzbek National News Agency correspondent has reported.
The Canadian authorities have already given their permission to open the flights, the director-general of the airline, Arslon Rozmetov, told a news conference, which was held to mark the 10th anniversary of the company. 
Talks to open the new flights were held during 2001. In the course of the talks, the Uzbek and Ukrainian airlines agreed to conduct joint flights to Canada. Moreover, the new flights from Tashkent will be conveniently coincided with Uzbekistan Airways' flights to India. Organizing the flights like this, Rozmetov said, takes into account the interests of the numerous Ukrainian and Indian ethnic communities in Canada...

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BANKING

Chinese company modernising Uzbek drilling rigs


The China Petroleum Technology and Development Corporation has started work on modernising ten drilling rigs in Uzbekistan. The contract, worth a total of US$69.7m, is being financed from the Uzbekneftegaz [Uzbek Oil and Gas] holding company's own foreign-currency resources, UzReport.com web site has reported.
The Chinese corporation has concluded a contract for the work with Uzburneftegaz [Uzbek Drilling Oil and Gas], a subsidiary of Uzbekneftegaz. modernisation of the drilling rigs will be carried out in two stages. The total cost of the first stage stands at almost US$21m.
The second payment of over US$7.3m as an advance payment and for delivery of the equipment and other services at the second stage will be made in March 2002. The total cost of the second stage is about US$48.8m.

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CONSTRUCTION

Consortium wraps up Uzbekistan gas-chemical complex


An international consortium, headed by Swedish-Swiss ABB, has finished the construction of Shurtan Gas-Chemical Complex (Kashkadara region) at a cost of US$1bn. The gas-chemical complex was due to be launched at the end of December, Interfax News Agency quoted a source in the national holding company Uzbekneftegaz, which ordered the construction. The international consortium, which includes ABB Lummus Global, ABB Soimi and three Japanese companies Mitsui & Co Ltd., Toyo Engineering and Nisso Iwai Corporation signed a contract with Uzbekneftegaz at the start of 1999 for the turn-key production of the technological part includes a gas-cleaning unit, a polyethylene production plant with a capacity of 125,000 tonnes, with production of associated products (propane-butane fractions) of 137,000 tonnes per year. 
Financing of the Shurtan project was carried out using credits from international Corporation (JBIC), US Ex-Im Bank, and German commercial banks. Shurtan Gas-Chemical Complex is the first Polyethlene plant not only in Uzbekistan but also in Central Asia.

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ENERGY

Uzbekistan drafting energy conservation programme


A sitting of the joint collegium of the Ministry of Macro economy and Statistics has considered a draft energy conservation programme of the Republic of Uzbekistan until 2010.
An Uzbek National News Agency website reported that the draft national energy conservation programme until 2010 is based on the energy-saving programmes of 48 ministries, departments, companies and associations as well as the 14 regions of the country. The main areas of the technical energy-saving policy are defined in the document as follows:
- to increase the efficiency of and modernise the existing technological units, power engineering machinery and equipment;
- to decrease losses in producing, transporting and using fuel and energy resources;
- to introduce more modern energy consumption systems;
- to supply power consumers with electricity meters;
- to develop renewable energy sources and others.
With an estimated annual energy-saving potential of 22.8m tonnes of oil equivalent in the country, the programme envisages energy-saving measures to be taken until 2010 which will save the equivalent of 11.3m tonnes of oil a year.
The specific energy consumption will fall from 17.6 tonnes of oil equivalent per 1m soms of GDP in 2000 to 9.6 tonnes by 2010, or from 0.93 tonnes of oil equivalent to 0.6 tonnes per US$1,000.

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FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Foreign countries invested US$ 1.4m in Uzbek science in 2001


A session of the Institute of Natural Sciences dedicated to the results of 2001 was held at the Uzbek Academy of Sciences, UzReport.com web site has reported.
Today 14 institutes and two research and production centres of Uzbekistan are engaged in fundamental and applied research on chemical-biological and geological fields. More than 130 Uzbek scientists are conducting joint scientific research with their counterparts from the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Israel and many other countries.
Foreign investment for the last year in this sphere constituted US$ 1.4m.
Participants of the session noted that the results of scientific developments were more actively introduced into production. For instance, original technology simple superphosphate and high-level carbonised phosphorite production was introduced at the Samarkand chemical plant and more than 5.8 tonnes of phosphoric fertilizers. During the last year more than 20 types of new preparations matching world standards were introduced into production.
Uzbekistan has accumulated a huge scientific potential, which is confirmed by the fact that only during the last year more than 100 research articles by Uzbek scientists were published abroad, and 38 patents and 44 inventions were evaluated positively.

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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Uzbekistan, USA to set up joint genetic engineering centre


Uzbek and US scientists plan to set up a joint genetic engineering centre "soon" Uzbek TV reported on 14th January.
US scientists and the Department of Agriculture are interested in the sophisticated technology being used and completely new research methods being developed at the Institute of Genetics and Experimental Biology of Plants under the Uzbek Academy of Sciences, and have offered cooperation with Uzbek gene researchers in 14 projects, the television said.
"They are most interested in the results we have achieved in stamping out the illegal cultivation of narcotics-bearing poppy by using an absolutely environmentally-friendly, biological method. No similar method exists either in the USA or anywhere else in the world. We have tested this method in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and our own country with the help of UN agencies and got absolutely positive results," the director of the institute, academician Abdusattor Abdukarimov, told TV in an interview.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Uzbek-Korean project to modernise telecoms in eastern Uzbekistan completed


The implementation of an EDCF [Economic Development and Cooperation Fund, South Korea] project to expand and modernize the telecommunications network in Uzbekistan's Andizhan and Fergana Regions has ended, UzReport.com web site has reported.
Funds for the project, costing over US$10m, were granted to the Uzbek government by the Korean government from the Korean Export Import Bank, with which Uzbekistan had concluded a credit agreement.
In keeping with the agreement, Andizhan Region received US$5.45m and Fergana Region US$ 5.25m.

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