Economic and Political Overview

flag Uzbekistan Uzbekistan: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Indicators

Uzbekistan has been implementing ambitious market-oriented economic reforms, which had a positive impact on the country's economy. The government is advancing significant structural economic reforms, highlighted by a substantial reduction in energy subsidies for households, slated for implementation in May 2024. This follows the liberalization of tariffs for industries in October 2023. Uzbekistan's economy demonstrates resilience against spillovers from the Ukraine war and Russian sanctions, maintaining growth rates that rank among the highest in the CIS region. The IMF estimates growth at 5.5% for 2023. Remittances from Russia, comprising 9% of GDP and 74% of total remittances in 2023, play a critical role in Uzbekistan's external finances and economic growth. For the upcoming future, the IMF forecasts growth averaging 5.5%.

Concerning public finances, in 2023, the headline budget deficit, inclusive of extrabudgetary accounts and the Uzbekistan Fund for Reconstruction and Development (UFRD), widened by 1.4 percentage points to 5.5% of GDP. This expansion significantly surpassed the original budgeted target of 3%, mainly due to delays in energy tariff liberalization, slower-than-expected reduction in subsidized lending, and lower corporate profit tax revenues resulting from short-term energy shortages in the first quarter of 2023. Fitch anticipates the deficit to decrease to 4.3% of GDP in 2024 and further to 3.9% in 2025. This reduction is expected as cuts to energy subsidies are forecasted to permanently reduce expenditure by approximately 1.5 percentage points of GDP starting from 2024. By the end of 2023, gross general government debt, inclusive of external state guarantees, stood at 36% of GDP. To meet increased financing needs due to a revised, larger deficit, authorities issued USD 660 million (equivalent to 0.7% of GDP) in a Eurobond and UZS 4.25 trillion (equivalent to 0.4% of GDP) in soum-denominated green bonds in external markets in October 2023. Fitch projects the debt to remain relatively stable in 2024-25, averaging 34.3%. As of the end of 2023, 92.6% of government debt was denominated in foreign currency. However, risks are mitigated by the high share of concessional debt, which accounts for 88% of external public debt, and the fairly long maturities, with external debt averaging 9.1 years in 2023. Inflation has consistently been elevated, averaging 13% in 2023, as reported by Fitch. Continued phases of tariff hikes, aimed at achieving full market pricing by 2027-28, are expected to pose upward risks to inflation. In 2023, the Central Bank of Uzbekistan deferred the adoption of a formal 5% inflation target from the end of 2024 to the second half of 2025, primarily due to prevailing inflationary pressures. The Government's aims to transform Uzbekistan into an industrialised, upper-middle-income country by 2030, and has recently announced plans to modernise the agriculture sector, reduce its ownership of state-owned assets and enterprises, and address constraints in the financial markets.

According to the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Employment of Uzbekistan, the unemployment rate stood at 6.8% by the end of 2023, marking a notable decrease of 2.1% compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. The data further reveals a decrease in the poverty rate, declining from 14.1% to 11% based on the 2023 census. According to Coface, however, more than half of employment is in the informal sector. Moreover, the overall economic growth and increased urbanization in recent years contradict the persisting poverty. The World Bank estimated the country’s GDP per capita (PPP) at USD 9,535 in 2022.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 80.4290.3999.58113.03129.04
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 5.75.55.55.55.5
GDP per Capita (USD) 2,2802,5092,7103,0163,375
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 34.935.134.833.933.0
Inflation Rate (%) n/a10.210.010.48.2
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 8.98.47.97.46.9
Current Account (billions USD) -0.62-3.86-4.58-5.27-6.12
Current Account (in % of GDP) -0.8-4.3-4.6-4.7-4.7

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Uzbekistan has a workforce of 13.97 million out of its 34.9 million population (World Bank, latest data available). Agriculture plays a major role in the economy; it accounts for 23.5% of GDP and employs 26% of the total workforce. Main agricultural products include cotton, wheat, barley, rice, maize, potato, vegetables, fruits, and livestock. The country also produces silk and wool and is attempting to diversify its agriculture towards fruits and vegetables. Only 9% of the country’s land is considered arable. According to the Statistics Agency, the total value of agricultural, forestry, and fisheries products/services in 2023 amounted to 426.3 trillion soums, equivalent to USD 34.8 billion, marking a 4.1% increase from the previous year. In terms of agricultural output, 2023 saw the production of 8.4 million tons of grain products, 3.6 million tons of potatoes, 11.6 million tons of vegetables, 2.4 million tons of melon crops, 3.1 million tons of fruits and berries, and 1.7 million tons of grapes.

The industrial sector accounts for 31.1% of GDP and employs 24% of the total workforce (World Bank). Manufactured products included textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, mining, hydrocarbon extraction, and chemicals. Uzbekistan boasts the world's fourth-largest gold reserves and holds the twelfth position globally and second among the CIS countries in terms of mining. Metallurgy stands out as one of the nation's largest domestic industries, with copper, gold, silver, and uranium being the most extensively mined minerals. The oil and gas sector serves as a primary pillar of Uzbekistan's GDP, contributing substantially to its budget revenues, foreign exchange earnings, and industrial production framework. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in attracting investment to the country. Uzbekistan holds the position of the second-largest natural gas producer in Central Asia and is recognized for its substantial hydrocarbon reserves. By the conclusion of 2023, industrial production experienced a notable 6% increase, exhibiting positive growth across all key sectors. The manufacturing industry emerged as the primary catalyst for industrial growth, demonstrating the most significant structural changes. Output of manufacturing products surged by 6.7%, showcasing robust dynamics in the sector.

The services sector accounts for 35.5% of GDP and employs 50% of the total workforce (World Bank). Key services include transportation and tourism. In 2023, Uzbekistan experienced a significant rise in foreign visitors, with a total of 6.6 million foreigners visiting the country. This marked a notable increase of 26.9% compared to the previous year, as reported by the Statistics Agency. By the end of September 2022, Uzbekistan's banking sector represented 69.7% of the country's GDP. The dominance of large state-owned and state-controlled banks persists within the sector, with only five such banks managing 61% of all assets in the banking sector (data OECD). Overall, the service sector witnessed a growth of 6.8% in 2023. Within this sector, trade, encompassing accommodation and catering services, saw an increase of 10.2%. Transportation and storage, along with information and communications, experienced a growth of 12.3%, while other service industries grew by 4.5%.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 23.9 25.4 50.6
Value Added (in % of GDP) 23.5 31.1 35.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) 3.6 5.5 8.5

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Uzbek Sum (UZS) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 83.3954.82237.80248.92255.53

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
58,3/100
World Rank:
108
Regional Rank:
21

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Foreign Trade in Figures

According to the latest available data by the World Bank, Uzbekistan's foreign trade represents 72% of GDP (World Bank, latest data available). As a producer of oil, natural gas, gold, and cotton, natural resources dominate the country’s exports. According to the national Statistics Agency, in 2022, exports were primarily comprised of industrial goods (USD 4.4 billion), gold (USD 4.1 billion), and services (USD 4 billion), constituting 65% of the total. Uzbekistan's import pattern reflects its continuous industrialization and modernization efforts, with machinery and transport equipment (31.4%), industrial goods (18.8%), and chemicals and related products (13.8%) dominating the import structure.

The country’s main export destinations were Russia (17.0%), China (11.5%), Turkey (9.5%), Kazakhstan (8.2%), and Kyrgyzstan (6.1%), whereas imports came chiefly from China (20.9%), Russia (20.3%), Kazakhstan (10.5%), South Korea (7.5%), and Turkey (5.7% - data Statistics Agency). As of 2023, Uzbekistan has trade relations with over 140 countries and has signed trade agreements with 47 countries. In 2020, the country became an observer in the Eurasian Economic Union, and although Uzbekistan is not a member of the WTO yet, the nation is working on accession.

According to WTO data, in 2022, Uzbekistan exported goods for a total value of USD 15.2 billion, while imports totaled USD 28.2 billion. As per commercial services, Uzbekistan exported USD 4.8 billion against USD 7.3 billion in imports. The country has a structurally negative trade balance. The trade deficit was estimated at 17% of GDP in 2022 by the World Bank, compared to 16.5% one year earlier. Uzbekistan's foreign trade turnover surged by 23.9% year-on-year, reaching USD 62.6 billion in 2023, as reported by the country's Statistics Agency. Exports saw a 23.8% increase to USD 24.4 billion, while imports rose by 24% to USD 38.1 billion. However, the negative balance of foreign trade widened to USD 13.715 billion compared to USD 11.035 billion in the previous year. China emerged as Uzbekistan's leading foreign trade partner, accounting for 21.9% of the total trade turnover, followed by Russia (15.8%), Kazakhstan (7%), Turkey (5%), and South Korea (3.7%). Gold constituted the majority of Uzbekistan's exports, representing 33.4% of all exports, followed by services (21.2%), industrial goods (16.6%), and food products (7.9%). Meanwhile, the main import items included machinery and equipment (39.2%), manufactured goods (16.6%), chemical products (12.8%), food products (10.8%), and services (6.7%).

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 17,31221,86720,02023,88628,264
Exports of Goods (million USD) 10,92114,93013,28114,09215,287
Imports of Services (million USD) 5,1915,3983,5905,0277,301
Exports of Services (million USD) 2,7503,1271,7042,3004,815
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 42.313.4-14.923.413.6
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 10.216.4-20.113.424.6
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 44.444.237.740.244.3
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 26.828.324.223.727.3
Trade Balance (million USD) -6,867-7,291-6,216-8,767-11,199
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -9,308-9,562-8,102-11,494-13,685
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 71.272.561.863.871.6

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
Russia 17.0%
China 11.5%
Türkiye 9.5%
Kazakhstan 8.2%
Kyrgyzstan 6.1%
See More Countries 47.7%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
China 22.4%
Russia 21.4%
Kazakhstan 11.4%
South Korea 7.7%
Türkiye 5.9%
See More Countries 31.2%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 
 
 

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Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Economy
Ministry of Finance
Statistical Office
State Committee of Statistics
Central Bank
Central Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Stock Exchange
Republican Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Uztrade
Economic Portals
Economic portal

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Shavkat Mirziyoev (since 8 September 2016)
Prime Minister: Abdulla Aripov (since 14 December 2016)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: March 2026
Senate: January 2025
Legislative Chamber: December 2024
Main Political Parties
The government suppresses all political opposition, and there are no recognised opposition parties. The four political parties represented in the 150-seat Legislative Chamber are all supportive of the current leadership:

- Liberal Democratic Party: catch-all party, populist, authoritarian, third way
- National Revival Democratic Party: centre-right, nationalist, pro-modernisation   
- Justice Social Democratic Party: centre-left, social democrat, secular, third way
- People's Democratic Party of Uzbekistan: departure of the former Communist part, nationalist, authoritarian
- Ecological Party of Uzbekistan: green party

Furthermore, Birlik (Unity), Erk (Freedom), and Birdamlik (People's Democratic Movement) are banned democratic parties.

Type of State
Uzbekistan is a presidential constitutional republic.
Executive Power
The President is the chief of the state and is elected by popular vote for a five-year term, which can be renewed once. The Prime minister is the head of the government and is in charge of the cabinet and responsible for the economy. The President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and holds almost all the executive powers. He selects and replaces provincial governors. The Prime Minister and cabinet ministers are also directly appointed by the President with confirmation by the parliament.
Legislative Power
The legislature is bicameral in Uzbekistan. The parliament called Supreme Assembly (or Oliy Majlis) consists of: the Senate (the upper house) having 100 seats with 84 members elected by regional governing councils to serve five-year terms and 16 are appointed by the President; and the Legislative Chamber (the lower house) having 150 seats with its members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. The President and the executive branch completely dominate the legislature and can dissolve it if they wish. The Parliament meets only a few days every year and has little power to shape laws. The people of Uzbekistan have very limited political rights.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
157/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Not Free
Political Freedom:
7/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Uzbekistan, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

 

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Latest Update: April 2024