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UZBEKISTAN


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 9,949 9,713 11,300 91
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 420 450 550 173
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (date from the World Bank)

Books on Uzbekistan


Update No: 319 - (26/07/07)

The centre point of Central Asia 
Uzbekistan is difficult to ignore. It is too big and central to Central Asia for that. It is run by a ghastly dictator, who tolerates having his enemies boiled alive and other unspeakable atrocities. 

A brave ambassador, the UK's Craig Murray, pointed this out forthrightly in public in Tashkent several years ago. He lost his job for his pains. The US acquired a military base on the Afghan border after 9:11, a more weighty consideration. But then in May 2005 came a massacre at Andijan in the Ferghana Valley, in which hundreds were killed. Even the complaisant denizens of Foggy Bottom realised that this was beyond the pale. They denounced the regime and had their base evicted forthwith.

But life goes on. Washington has enough enemies on its plate without adding one more to the list. Uzbekistan is certainly not preparing to acquire nuclear weapons, unlike Iran next door. On reflection new feelers are being put out to Tashkent.

Is a thaw in the offing? 
Recent high-profile missions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) lauded Uzbekistan's economic performance, prompting some political analysts to wonder whether a thaw is in the offing between Tashkent on the one hand, and the United States and European Union on the other. 

An IMF staff mission visited Uzbekistan from June 4th-13th. The mission's statement posted on IMF's website, lauded Uzbek authorities for "their excellent cooperation and frank exchange of views." In sharp contrast to previous assessments, which complained about a lack of will to carry out structural reforms, the latest mission statement noted that the Uzbek economy continues "to perform well," showing 9 percent growth for the first quarter of 2007. "There are indications that inflation has eased and confidence in the banking system has improved," the statement added.

The IMF adopted a restrained approach on government taxation and regulatory policies. Within the past year, entrepreneurs in the country have complained bitterly about a confiscatory tax system and excessive regulations, yet the IMF mission stepped gingerly in these areas, noting euphemistically that "fiscal policies have remained cautious, while the tax burden declined." 

In addition, the IMF mission said it was "encouraged by the intention of the authorities to conduct an appropriately tight monetary policy," and urged Uzbek authorities to "consolidate the improved confidence in the banking system." 

Although the Uzbek economy has experienced moderate growth, the tenor of the IMF statement caught the attention of many regional analysts, especially when considering the IMF felt compelled to briefly suspend ties with Uzbekistan in 2001 over Tashkent's reluctance to implement reforms. 

Experts believe that the goal of the IMF's visit and laudatory statement is to broker reconciliation between Uzbekistan and the West, especially, the United States, after several years of a deep diplomatic freeze, connected with the 2005 Andijan events. 

Also in June, visiting ADB representatives sounded an optimistic note on Uzbekistan's economic growth prospects. The Uzbekistan Today information agency quoted Liqun Jin, a bank vice president, as characterizing the Central Asian nation as "an important member of the ADB." 

But Russia is Big Brother
Endeavouring to keep Uzbekistan firmly within the Kremlin's sphere of influence, a Russian delegation led by First Vice-Premier Sergei Ivanov visited Tashkent early in July. The key issue on Ivanov's agenda was energy development. At the conclusion of his visit, Ivanov signalled Russia's desire to reach a deal with Uzbekistan on the construction of a new natural gas pipeline. Officials also signed a deal to jointly construct aircraft. 

On July 11th, Uzbek and Russian authorities announced the signing of three agreements covering labour migration. One accord solidifies the framework for the protection of migrant labourers' rights. The others are designed to make it easier for the two governments to combat illegal migration. About 500,000 Uzbeks engaged in migrant labour in Russia during 2006, according Russian Migration Service officials. 

The three migration agreements are viewed as a vital diplomatic success for Tashkent. President Islam Karimov's administration has paid increasing attention to labour migration in recent years, given that it's a major source of hard currency income for the country. According to some estimates, remittances sent by Uzbek labour migrants total about $500 million annually, i.e. about as much as the revenue generated by cotton, one of Uzbekistan's key exports. Up to 3 million Uzbek citizens reportedly leave the country every year to work abroad, mostly in Russia. Labour migration helps ease the pressure generated by severe unemployment inside Uzbekistan, a condition that many officials see as perhaps the most serious threat to internal security. 

Playing off the West against Moscow and Beejing
The evident US and EU desire for a rapprochement offers tacit recognition that sanctions imposed in the wake of the Andijan events have been ineffective in altering Uzbek government behaviour. With much of its strategic exports -- including oil and gas, gold, cotton and other agricultural products -- going to Russia, China and other "non-Western" partners, Tashkent has largely insulated itself against the threat of Western economic punishments. 

Some experts say Tashkent is welcoming the Western overtures out of a desire to play Washington and Brussels off against Moscow and Beijing. Maintaining good ties with all four powers, many officials in Tashkent believe, would offer a strong security guarantee for the incumbent administration.

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SOUTH/CENTRAL ASIA: IS TALK OF IMU AIMED AT COURTING OUTSIDERS? 
There is always one card well worth playing as well - the struggle against terrorism, the mainstay of the Uzbek regime, and, indeed, of neighbouring state regimes too. Afghanistan's National Security Directorate announced in March that at least seven men with alleged connections to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) have been arrested in two northern provinces, Faryab and Jowzjan. The announcement is the latest warning of radical Islamist activity in Central and South Asia. 

In neighbouring Tajikistan, authorities detained 10 suspected IMU members in late June as a trial there continued of 14 others facing similar allegations. Tajik and Uzbek defence officials have warned of "increasing threats posed by terrorist and extremist groups" in Central Asia. 

But could the region's leaders be inflating the threat posed by extremist groups in order to portray their countries as the front line against terrorism and boost their leverage ahead of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)? 

Shady past 
The IMU is regarded by U.S. and the members of the SCO as a terrorist group. Officials have in the past pointed to senior leadership and training ties between the IMU and al-Qaeda. 

At an SCO meeting in Bishkek on June 27th, Tajik Defence Minister Sherali Khairulloev predicted that militant groups would be more active throughout Central and South Asia as the last of the current crop of opium poppies are harvested in Afghanistan. 

"Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and IMU followers will intensify their activities starting from July," Khairulloev said. "As far as their impact on Fergana Valley is concerned, we are more concerned about the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. As you know, they are being financed by some foreign governments, and they have to justify their existence -- because if there is no activity, there would be no financing." 

Speaking alongside his Central Asian counterparts, Khairulloev said that Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have sought to tighten their borders to intercept IMU members' movements. 

Sceptics abound 
Despite official warnings -- and prominent arrests and trials of suspected IMU supporters -- some observers say there is no evidence to support claims that militants are more active. 

Critics accuse Central Asia's bullying governments of playing up perceived threats to justify crackdowns on dissent at home and to portray themselves as crucial to international counter-terrorism efforts. 

Michael Hall, head of the Central Asian project for the International Crisis Group (ICG), a non-profit analytical and advocacy group, said authorities in the region are likely to issue more statements highlighting the IMU threat ahead of a major summit in August of the SCO. 

Hall said he thinks officials want to show fellow SCO members Russia and China that they are valuable counter-terrorism allies who deserve greater support. 

IMU 'Remnants' 
Hall said that while there has long been some degree of threat in Central Asia, the IMU is actually weaker now than before the United States declared its "war on terror" in 2001. 

"There probably are remnants of the IMU in Central Asia to this day," Hall said. "But to what extent they are linked to what is left of the IMU currently based in Pakistan -- to what extent they are connected with one another and to what extent they are capable of pulling off any major acts of terrorism -- I think it is very difficult to make any clear statement on that front. I think [that] in many cases the threat posed by the groups is certainly, to a certain extent, exaggerated." 

Matthew Clements, Eurasia editor in the Country Risk Department for the U.K.-based Jane's Information Group, argued that if there is any danger of radicalism in Central Asia, it stems from authorities' pressure on religious and political freedom, as well as a lack of socio-economic opportunity. 

"I think the danger of this [situation] is that elements of this could become more radicalised -- and this is mainly due to government action [and] to the fact that these people feel that their socio-economic well-being is being put second by the government," Clements said. "[They feel] that they are not being politically represented. And also because the populations are being cracked down upon by the governments. And these crackdowns themselves are likely to engender greater feelings of radicalism." 

Creating sympathy? 
Hikmatulloh Saifullozoda heads the "Dialog" think tank in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, and is a prominent member of Tajikistan's Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP) -- the only officially registered Islamic party in Central Asia. He said that while radical Islamic underground groups might have a limited number of followers in Central Asia, they don't enjoy much popular support. Saifullozoda questioned whether what he labels authorities' "unnecessary pressure" on religious freedom might help religious extremists win sympathy. 

He also warned governments against provoking public anger by needlessly intervening on sensitive issues like conservative women's wearing of head scarves. 

"If the authorities solve these social problems, and as long as they do not interfere in sensitive issues -- which could take an unexpected turn -- I think no one would support the radical groups," Saifullozoda said. 

There is a general consensus among analysts that groups like the IMU currently are not capable of destabilizing the region on any grand scale. But that does not mean they could not try to launch isolated acts of terror. 

Observers pointed out that democratic reforms -- fostering freedom of speech, religion, and political activities -- could reduce the risk of radical groups winning public support. 
They also suggested that governments could help their own cause through efforts to raise living standards by creating jobs and battling corruption. 

In poverty-stricken regions like Central and South Asia, these observers warned, social unrest can take on virtually any form. And regardless of the immediate threat they present, radical groups like the IMU have a lot of experience at harnessing public disenchantment. 

THE SILK ROAD RUNS THROUGH IT 
The Silk Road, from the Mediterranean to the Far East, was once among the most important trade routes in the world. It remains an iconic "crossroad" for East-West relations, but the countries it criss-crosses are poorly understood outside the region. 

London's Asia House and the British Council organized a recent forum that asked whether Central Asia's heritage can help better inform outsiders about a frequently misunderstood region. 

References to the Silk Road inevitably bring to mind the former glory of the great cities along this ancient trade route. "Hundreds of years ago, the countries of Central and South Asia were very well known to the imaginations of people elsewhere in the world -- really because of the import and export of goods along this network of trade routes that went from China all the way to eastern Mediterranean, from the Far East to Europe," says Emily Campbell, the British Council's head of design and architecture, who chaired the March 29 gathering. "Since then, these countries have fallen into obscurity or the perception of those countries among people in the West has become very skewed." 

Campbell says inaccessibility and political obstacles have contributed to the region's isolation. Many of the old Silk Road countries were under Russian or Soviet rule until 1991. 

Word Travels Fast 
Campbell says those countries have now emerged from that situation. 

In an age when information travels so much faster than cargo, visual cues for distant lands can be important. The region is flush with them -- from the 4,000 intricately woven pieces of Kazakhstan's "Golden Man" suit, to the Persian blue tiles reminiscent of lapis lazuli, or the carpets of Bukhara. Architectural treasures include Samarkand's mausoleum of Tamerlane (Timur) the Citadel of Herat, and countless others. 

But can such imagery translate into tourism and trade revenues? 
Observers say the concepts of a modern identity and how to project it outside the region are a hot topic in Central Asia. 

Alismer Faizullaiev, a professor at Tashkent's University of World Economy and Diplomacy, calls elements of national identity -- like national heroes, languages or linguistic mixes, and common history -- "identifiers." 

He points out that identity is a social constant and can be chosen, altered, or even manipulated by political regimes. But he says there is also a need for modern identifiers. 

"We are very proud of our history, culture, and identity," Faizullaiev says, "but at the same time it's important to go [forward], not just look back. And I believe that [in] the branding of [the] Uzbek nation -- or any other nations, like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, etc. -- it's important to bring together two parts -- something from the past and something from the future." 

Parsing Pointers 
Faizullaiev argues that an important aspect of all Silk Road nations is that their specific identities can be explained by what he calls "cross-roadness." 

The term recognizes former trade-nation status -- including being shaped, in part, by their constant trade contacts. 

The British Council's Campbell agrees that there is a need for modern identity "pointers." She says they can be based on tradition -- for example, typical ornamental patterns in textile design or in applied arts and crafts. 

Campbell called architecture one of the most "visible" new identity pointers. Well-preserved ancient buildings, palaces, or mosques hold great attraction. But she says there are also striking modern buildings, for instance in Kazakstan. 

"Sir Norman Foster, one of our own architects, has just built this Centre for World Peace in Astana, which is an astonishing building," Campbell says. "Architecture will undoubtedly be part of our campaign. And I anticipate that some of that will be to do with the idea of regeneration -- the idea of making the old into something new, into some kind of contemporary proposition, which Britain and indeed many countries in Europe are very, very good at doing." 

Potent Reminder 
Rory Stewart is a best-selling travel writer and director of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation to preserve local buildings and traditional crafts in Kabul. He has walked extensively in the Silk Road region -- including tracing the Afghan exploits of the founder (Babur) of India's Moghul Empire for his widely praised book, "The Places In Between." 

Stewart agrees that the term "Old Silk Road" remains the best identity pointer for the region and should be revived. He points out that in the old days, it was the cities that mattered most on the old route. 

"The idea of nationhood there is relatively recent," Stewart says. "The distinction between these countries was really the distinction between cities, not between states. Afghanistan itself, of course, largely came into being in the late 18th century." 

Stewart describes Kabul as an old trading city that desperately needs more investment to become an identity symbol, but he remains hopeful that much can be accomplished. 
In Bukhara in southwestern Uzbekistan, for instance, the number of visitors has doubled to 420,000 a year. That rise owes much to investment attracted over the past six years due to the fame of the Old Silk Road. 

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On this fascinating subject no-one is more illuminating than the great travel writer, Colin Thurbon. The following is an appreciation of his latest work:-

'Shadow of the Silk Road': Marking time on a historic route
by Lorraine Adam
Colin Thubron, the dean of British travel writers, would hate being called the dean of anything. A hitchhiking man, he gets drunk with Kyrgyz villagers who drive headlong toward a truck. He camps in a mud hut with workers in the mountains of northern Iran. He equably drinks wine out of paper cups with a Russian beggar. His clothes are dodgy, his rucksack light.

He does, however, speak Mandarin and Russian. And this, his ninth travel book, is no lark. It chronicles his 7,000-mile, or 11,200-kilometer, journey in 2003 and 2004 (begun when he was about to turn 64) from Xian, China, to the Turkish coastal city of Antioch.

The Silk Road Thubron travel is, he reminds us, not one road but a "fretwork" of trade routes dating back to 1500 B.C. Its very name, now appropriated by everyone and everything from Yo-Yo Ma to aromatherapy products, was actually coined by a 19th-century German geographer.

Along these trails, the great Chinese inventions made their way west: printing, the crossbow, gunpowder, lock gates and drive belts, the mechanical clock, the spinning wheel, iron chain suspension bridges, equine harnesses and deep-drilling techniques.

Since Marco Polo first narrated a new kind of text in a Genoa prison cell, much of the finest Western travel writing about Asia has managed to be both serious and appealingly haphazard. The master British explorers of Eastern climes have been beautiful writers who can also be laugh-out-loud funny - Vita Sackville-West in Persia, Freya Stark in Luristan, Robert Byron on the road to ancient Oxiana and Eric Newby in the Hindu Kush. Thubron possesses the same gifts.

His account of an unexpected root-canal procedure at the hands of a chador-wearing dentist is a small masterpiece of painful hilarity.

Yet in "Shadow of the Silk Road" Thubron departs from his countrymen in important respects. This is not his first trip across these deserts and mountains, and he saw many of these places before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Because he travels without a camera, Thubron never compares snapshots, only memories. In this, he is more poetic than his predecessors; the passage of time is his book's most interesting feature.

"Over this desolation, centuries of caravans had moved. Through my splintered window I looked out on their memory with amazement," Thubron writes in western China. "At different periods, everything on the known earth had passed this way: frankincense, rhinoceros horn, cucumbers, musk, dwarfs, lapis lazuli, peacocks, indigo eye-shadow (the monopoly of the Chinese empress), even a caged lion or two." Today police officers looking for drugs and bureaucrats protecting borders have replaced the Sogdian traders who once plied these roadways. As Thubron and a busload of Afghans cross into Iran: "We were stood against a wall, as if to be shot, with our baggage at our feet. The Afghans looked bitter and depleted. Many of their passports had been signed by the illiterate with a thumbprint.

When an officer realized I was a Westerner, I was motioned aside, guiltily exempt, with women and mewling children, while the men were ordered to take off their shoes, then sharply frisked. The bags were emptied again into the dust, spilling out their intimacies: spangled shoes and bras and family photographs. The few goods people were carrying for sale, the small exchanges of the Silk Road - pistachio nuts, woollen coats - were fingered, questioned, valued, then at last, mostly, returned." With its palaces, silk-clad camel drivers and flourishing trade, the Persian caravan city of Rey "once compared to Baghdad."

Now, Thubron finds, it's a suburb of apartment blocks on the southern outskirts of Tehran, a polluted city of 14 million whose population has doubled in 20 years. During the heyday of the Silk Road, Thubron reminds us, "Tehran had hardly existed." Other journeys to other places shadow Thubron's travels. Eating alone in a Uighur restaurant, "a fleeting nostalgia touched me. I remembered a young man in Damascus 40 years ago, seated alone like this, eating, watching. But now those around me spoke not Arabic, but the scuttling, stressless language of a Turkic people." Thubron's first travel book was "Mirror to Damascus," published in 1967, when he was in his late 20s.

Thubron last saw China 18 years ago, before its market economy took off. In Xian, searching for the "coal dust" and "autumnal mud" he remembers, he finds instead a "hectic procession of shopping malls, restaurants and high-tech industrial suburbs," the invasion of Givenchy, Bally, Dior and L'Oral. He sees "couples walking hand in hand, even kissing - a Maoist outrage." Yet the past, as Thubron amply demonstrates, is no haven for angels. In China, he visits an old friend, a professor of English literature. A survivor of the Cultural Revolution's mass terror, in which more than a million people are said to have died, this man's concerns are confined to the forwardness of college students and, ironically, the widespread teaching of English. As Thubron makes his way through the former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, he finds other living contradictions - like the Uzbek grandmother who reveres Stalin, killer of her husband and father.

The heinous is not confined to relatively recent times. Thubron recounts stories about the great butchers of the Central Asian past - about Tamerlane's pyramids of skulls and the Mongols' destruction of Balkh, Tus, Nishapur, Merv and Rey. "They were not just laid in ruins; they were all but extinguished. The Mongols herded their inhabitants outside the gates - men, women, children - and massacred them, even dogs and cats, then ploughed every dwelling into the ground." In the Afghan city of Herat, which he first visited 30 years ago, the complicated presence of the past is particularly clear. For Thubron, memory "had reduced the city to a few lantern slides: a pony trap pawing the ground outside my small hotel; sunbeams hanging in dust through the pines by the minarets of Gawhar Shad." A quarter-century of war intervened: first the Soviet invasion, then the civil war that brought the Taliban to power, then the United States-led campaign against the Taliban in 2001.

The hotel Thubron stayed in is gone, and the stink of diesel fumes has replaced the pure air he remembered. Yet he finds that "beneath this clamour an old suavity and grace survived." As he checks into a hotel near the Old City, Thubron peers through windows that overlook crossroads "where the Taliban had once hanged their victims on makeshift gallows." In the distance, however, "the isolated minarets of my memory reared up in golden pillars across a blurred sky." Then, in one of the wonderful asides with which his book is packed, Thubron mentions another of this blighted city's fascinating discontinuities: in the 12th century, its population exceeded that of Paris or Rome.

At first, Thubron explains, the Silk Road had a "gentle decline," but then, in the mid-15th century, "as Central Asia splintered into belligerent Turkic and Mongol khanates, China closed itself away. In an astonishing act of self-isolation, the Ming dynasty unrigged its entire heavy merchant fleet of 3,500 ships, and abandoned trade contacts by both land and sea." Spain and Portugal built their empires.

Columbus's voyage for the Orient resulted in an entirely different discovery, while the Portuguese pioneered the sea routes around Africa. The weight of the world shifted. Yet Thubron locates the beginning of this change not in Europe but in China, where, back in the 10th century, an unknown inventor discovered the maritime compass.

With its elegiac tone, "Shadow of the Silk Road" is moving in a way that's rare in travel literature, sidestepping nostalgia even as it notes its pull. Thubron goes to places most other sojourners can't - because they're not so much geographic locations as states of mind, formed from the lifelong accretion of intriguing facts, mistaken hopes, mysteries.

Here, on civilization's oldest and longest road, which isn't quite a road, he has found his way into that kingdom and brought it into focus for us.

Lorraine Adams, a writer in residence at the New School and the author of a novel, "Harbour."

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AVIATION

Uzbekistan Airways signs contract for 6 A320-200S 


Uzbekistan Airways, Uzbekistan`s national carrier, has signed a firm order for six Airbus A320 aircraft, further enlarging its Airbus fleet. The new A320s will replace older aircraft in the framework of Uzbekistan Airways' fleet modernisation programme, reducing fuel consumption and operating costs, Interfax News Agency reported. 
The engines have yet to be chosen. An agreement was also signed to this effect in Tashkent. The decision of the airline for Airbus follows a thorough evaluation process. Uzbekistan Airways will place the aircraft on domestic as well as on international routes, including destinations such as Delhi, Amritsar and Lahore, as part of a dynamic route expansion plan. The carrier currently operates scheduled flights to more than 40 cities around the world in the US, Europe, Middle East and Central Asia. Uzbekistan Airways plans to continuously increase the number of destinations in the coming years. "We pride ourselves in offering our passengers a service which meets the requirements of the world's highest standards to ensure optimal comfort for our passengers. We constantly aim at improving our service even further, to provide the youngest and most modern fleet and to expand our air transportation network. The Airbus A320 is the ideal aircraft for us to realise our strategy", said Uzbekistan Airways General Director, Valeriy Tyan. "Uzbekistan Airways ranks among the leading carriers in Central Asia. By selecting the A320, they have chosen the world-leading single aisle aircraft, offering the most advanced technology and best operational cost. We look forward to being part of the promising expansion strategy of this successful and dynamic airline", said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. Designed with advanced fuel-saving aerodynamics including winglets, with proven reliability and extended servicing intervals, the A320 family has amongst the lowest operating costs of any aircraft. The cabin is the widest of any single aisle aircraft, which allows for added passenger room and comfort as well as operational advantages such as quicker boarding and disembarkation.

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FOREIGN BUSINESS

Tashkent hosts Uzbek-Indonesian business forum

A delegation led by the director general for Pacific region at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, Primo Alui Joelianto, recently visited Uzbekistan to participate in the business forum of Uzbek-Indonesia, Interfax News Agency reported. 
The forum attended by representatives of Uzbek-Indonesian business circles was held in International business centre in Tashkent. At the forum, issues such as expansion of trade and economic cooperation between the countries were discussed. 
The participants of the meeting pointed out the creation of new possibilities for development of trade and economic cooperation between two countries, particularly, in the sphere of light industry, transportation, finance, energy sector, medical and pharmaceutical production. Cooperation between two countries in the spheres of trade is consequently developing. Indonesian entrepreneurs familiarised with economic potential of Uzbekistan, and pointed out, the favourable conditions for foreign investors created in the country. The sides exchanged views concerning the further expansion of cooperation, joint development and implementation of several new projects. Currently Uzbekistan exports component cotton fibre, metals, fruits and vegetables, and other product to Indonesia. In turn Indonesia exports medicine, transportation equipment, wood and products from wood.

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JOINT VENTURES

Uzbekistan mulls joint venture with TEA 

A Shaktivel, president of Tirupur Exporters' Association (TEA), India, accompanied by a 16-member trade delegation comprising of knitwear exporters and spinners recently visited Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan, a major textile centre, has expressed its willingness to have joint ventures or give the companies owned by its textile ministry for takeover with attractive terms and conditions, New Europe reported.
TEA was impressed with Uzbekistan's offer and is exploring possibilities of establishing textile units there. Sakthivel said the Uzbek authorities had given details of 10 sick units there. "We are studying their proposals. After working out the modalities we may make an offer. We are contemplating setting up a company with 10 or 15 exporters and spinners as shareholders for the takeover move," he added. Stating that the trip was positive and fruitful, Sakthivel hoped that if the effort succeeded Tirupur garment units could import yarn and fabric from Uzbek. The delegation visited many spinning mills, weaving and non-weaving factories including garment units and the delegation was offered for joint ventures or takeover of the companies owned by Uzbekistan textile ministry. Uzbekistan, the sixth largest cotton producer in the world, was also ready to offer discount in the cotton prices from the Liverpool auction price, Shaktivel said. Cheap and disciplined labour, low electricity charges besides income tax holiday for investors and VAT refund for exporters were the attractive terms from the Uzbek side. As the delegation found the features attractive in Uzbekistan, the members held discussions with Ruzukulor Rahmatullo, Minister of Textile and Chairman of State Joint Stock Company. Rahmatullo, assured the delegation of all support. As Uzbekistan was ready to extend all the facilities and the delegation showing keen interest, the exporters could bring yarn and fabrics to Tirupur and use it for garment exports, once the proposals are materialised, Shaktivel said.

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