Uzbekistan: Trade Regime and Recent Trade Developments
The trade regime currently in place in Uzbekistan supports the development of import-substituting industries and hinders the development of export-oriented industries. Consequently, primary commodities continue to dominate the country’s merchandise exports. The rapid expansion of merchandise exports in 2001-2010 was due mostly to the rise in world prices of primary commodities. The expansion of imports was to a large degree on account of increases in imports of intermediate and capital goods for import-substituting industries. Trade surpluses were achieved through high taxes on imports and rationing of foreign exchange. Significant shifts occurred in the geographical distribution of trade. The share of the EU in both exports and imports decreased, and Russia overtook the EU as Uzbekistan’s top trading partner. The share of China in both exports and imports increased considerably. The share of the Central Asian countries in exports fell significantly, while their share in imports rose modestly. Exports to Afghanistan surged, but imports from Afghanistan remained small. This suggests that there is a lot of scope for expanding economic cooperation between Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries as well as between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.