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

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Uzbekistan is implementing ambitious market-oriented economic reforms, which had been positively impacting the economy before 2020. However, in 2020, the country recorded its worst economic performance in over two decades mainly due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic (such as weak domestic demand and private consumption, as well as a decline in tourism and in remittances from Uzbeks abroad). Still, GDP growth remained positive at 1.7% before jumping again at +6.1% in 2021. It is expected to stabilise at this high level in 2022 (5.4%) and 2023 (5.5%), subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery, conclusion of the market reforms opening new prospects for export-led growth and addressing production bottlenecks and regulatory constraints.The rebound in remittances and the increase in social spending are expected to continue boosting domestic demand in 2022. Moreover, abundant and varied natural resources, low public debt, solid foreign exchange reserves, aggressive investment programmes, a growing labour force, and a strategic geographic position between China and Europe further factor into Uzbekistan's looming economic development.

According to the IMF, government debt grew to an estimated 36.4% of GDP in 2020 and 38.9% in 2021, and is expected to rise again in 2022 (41%) and stabilise in 2023 (40.5). Periodic price increases for utilities kept inflation high in 2020 (12.9%) and 2021 (11%) and the recovery in domestic demand is expected to keep inflation high in 2022 (10.9%) before a slow down at 8.1% in 2023 (IMF, October 2021). Tightening of monetary and credit policies will be required for inflation to moderate in the coming years. The current account deficit of USD 3.96 billion increased due to the decline in remittances and a trade deficit driven by purchases to diversify the economy. In 2022, the deficit is expected to further increase with the rebound in imports, reaching USD 4.1 billion or -5.6% of GDP. Key economic challenges in Uzbekistan include lack of economic diversification, reliance on commodity prices, a large informal economy, low economic competition, an underdeveloped banking sector, and state intervention in credit, prices, administrative, and custom affairs (COFACE, 2021). The Government's 2017-2021 strategic plan included reforming bureaucracy, establishing rule of law, opening the economy, and promoting, education, health, and infrastructure to attract private investments and reduce both unemployment and poverty. 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. In 2020, the Uzbek government's efforts to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic included additional spending on health care (including for medicines, the costs of quarantines, and salary supplements for healthcare workers) and social assistance (as there was an increase in the number of families with children and low-income families receiving social benefits), as well as international financial support (from the World Bank, the IMF, and the ADB). The government created an Anti-Crisis Fund of USD 1 billion (about 2% of GDP), temporary reduced some taxes, postponed the payment of property and land taxes, extended a moratorium on tax audits, and delayed tax declarations for 2019 income taxes.

According to the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations of Uzbekistan, the unemployment rate was 9.4% in 2021. However, this rate severely underestimates the size of the informal sector. According to Coface, 58% of employment is in the informal sector, which was the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the overall economic growth and increased urbanisation in the recent years contradict the persisting poverty. The country is threatened by decades-long tense relations with Kyrgyzstan along the border. However, emerging economic ties and warming social relations between the two countries give hope to a friendly resolution of the issue. Other risks include resolving border disputes, water issues, and food security. The continued expansion of social assistance and public investments to improve rural infrastructure, and vaccination costs, will continue to elevate public spending in 2021. This will be partially offset by higher tax, mining, and privatization revenues, leading to an overall fiscal deficit of 5.5% of GDP in 2021. COVID-19 uncertainties and a forthcoming VAT rates reduction in 2023, are likely to contribute to a higher medium-term fiscal deficit. A robust economic recovery, the gradual withdrawal of anti-crisis measures, and tax administration reforms to widen the tax base are projected to help consolidate public finances and stabilise debt at about 40.5% of GDP by end-2023.

 
Main Indicators 201920202021 (e)2022 (e)2023 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 59.91e59.93e65.5072.7680.97
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 5.7e1.7e6.15.45.5
GDP per Capita (USD) 1,801e1,767e1,9012,0792,277
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 28.336.438.941.040.5
Inflation Rate (%) 14.512.910.811.811.3
Current Account (billions USD) -3.37-3.01e-3.96-4.10-4.26
Current Account (in % of GDP) -5.6-5.0e-6.0-5.6-5.3

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , October 2021

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Uzbekistan has a workforce of 14.4 million out of its 34.2 million population (World Bank). Agriculture plays a major role in the economy; it accounts for 25.5% of GDP and employs 25.7% 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. Poland, Russia, and the Netherlands have strengthened agricultural relations with Uzbekistan. According to a report by the Uzbek Centre for Economic Research and Reform and the United Nations Development Program in Uzbekistan, the country's agriculture sector was the least affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with both the forestry and the fishing industries.

The industry accounts for 33.6% of GDP and employs 23% of the total workforce (World Bank). Manufactured products included textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, mining, hydrocarbon extraction, and chemicals. The country is also rich in coal, zinc, copper, tungsten, uranium, and silver. Although the industrial sector suffered with the pandemic, 43% of the Uzbek Anti-Crisis Fund - an economic package implemented to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on the country’s economy - was allocated to the industrial sector, including thermal power plants, regional power networks, oil and gas networks, air transport, and the rubber industry.

The services sector accounted for 36% of GDP and employs 51.3% of the total workforce (World Bank). Key services include transportation and tourism. Uzbekistan was the fourth fastest growing country for tourism in 2019 (+27.3%), receiving 6.7 million tourists (United Nations World Tourism Organization). However, in 2020, the tourism industry was the most affected by the pandemic, particularly the hospitality and the food services sectors. Nevertheless, tourism should resume growth in 2021 and 2022.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 25.7 23.0 51.3
Value Added (in % of GDP) 26.1 32.8 33.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) 3.0 3.7 -0.1

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

Find more information about your business sector on our service Market Reports.

 
 
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.

 
 

Find out all the exchange rates daily on our service Currency Converter.

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 tot the latest available data by the World Bank, Uzbekistan's foreign trade represented 62% of GDP in 2020. As a producer of oil, natural gas, and gold and as the second largest exporter of cotton, natural resources dominate the country’s exports. Uzbekistan’s other exports include machines and equipment, and food. The country exports pearls, gold, precious stones, metals and coins (45%), cotton (9%), mineral fuels, oils, distillation products (5.9%) and copper (5.5%). Imports include machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers (24%), vehicles other than railway, tramway (9.2%), iron and steel (6.2%) and pharmaceutical products with 5.8% (Trading Economics, 2022). Uzbekistan total Exports expanded 25.2% Year on Year in Mar 2021, compared with a decrease of 38.9 % Year on Year in the previous month.

In 2021, main export destinations included Russia (24% of all exports), China (16%), Turkey, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Imports arrived from China (22%), Russia (20%), Kazakhstan, South Korea, and Turkey. As of 2021, Uzbekistan has trade relations with over 140 countries and has signed trade agreements with 45 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. Additionally, the UAE and Uzbekistan have agreed to expand their partnership and  increase trade volume and investments in textiles, renewable energy, infrastructure, and agriculture. A large trade and logistics centre will also be constructed in the border areas of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

According to WTO data for 2020, Uzbekistan exported goods for total value of 13.1 billion USD, while it imported goods for a total value of 19.9 billion USD. As for commercial services, Uzbekistan exported 1.7 billion USD and imported 3.4 billion USD worth services. As a result, the country had a negative trade balance of 8 billion USD in 2020. When accounting for both goods and services, imports decreased by 12.9%, while exports decreased by 18.7% (WTO, 2021).

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 11,50012,03717,31221,86619,932
Exports of Goods (million USD) 10,00010,39010,92114,02413,097
Imports of Services (million USD) n/a9785,1675,3343,483
Exports of Services (million USD) n/a3,5062,7313,0751,693
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -2.215.538.525.0-12.9
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 11.11.39.320.7-18.7
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 14.923.938.642.036.7
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 14.921.828.030.326.3
Trade Balance (million USD) -2,392-2,216-6,867-7,291-6,225
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -3,931-4,058-9,308-9,557-8,037
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 29.745.766.672.363.0

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

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2020
Russia 13.1%
China 9.1%
Turkey 7.1%
Kyrgyzstan 5.7%
Kazakhstan 5.3%
See More Countries 59.7%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2020
China 22.2%
Russia 20.4%
Kazakhstan 10.5%
South Korea 9.7%
Turkey 5.4%
See More Countries 31.8%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 
 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 
 

Main Services

2.7 bn USD of services exported in 2018
46.64%
42.68%
5.74%
2.27%
1.08%
1.06%
0.25%
0.24%
0.03%
0.01%
5.2 bn USD of services imported in 2018
46.85%
43.56%
3.28%
2.67%
1.30%
0.97%
0.70%
0.35%
0.26%
0.04%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Shavkat Mirziyoev (since 8 September 2016)
Prime Minister: Abdulla Oripov (since 14 December 2016)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: March 2026
Senate: December 2024
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 politics

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 so. 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

Source: World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders

 

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

COVID-19 epidemic evolution
To find out about the latest status of the COVID-19 pandemic evolution and the most up-to-date statistics on the COVID-19 disease in Uzbekistan, please visit the Uzbekistani Ministry of Health website.

For the international outlook you can consult the latest situation reports published by the World Health Organisation as well as the global daily statistics on the coronavirus pandemic evolution including data on confirmed cases and deaths by country.
Sanitary measures
To discover the latest public health situation in Uzbekistan and the current sanitary measures in vigour, you consult the UZBEKISTAN EMERGENCY COVID-19 RESPONSE PROJECT. You can find additional information on this local media.
Travel restrictions
The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new variants, evolves rapidly and differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Regularly updated information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related travel restrictions in place including entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The US government website of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention provides COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

The UK Foreign travel advice also provides travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.
Import & export restrictions
For the information on all the measures applicable to movement of goods during the period of sanitary emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak (including eventual restrictions on imports and exports, if applicable), please consult the website of the Uzbekistani State Customs Committee.
For a general overview of trade restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Uzbekistan on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
Most of the economic measures taken by the Uzbekistan government to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy are addressed in the UZBEKISTAN EMERGENCY COVID-19 RESPONSE PROJECT. Project that received financial support from the World Bank. Further information on the Uzbekistani economy recovery plan can be found here.
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) taken by the Uzbekistan government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Uzbekistan in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
Some measures related to Tax developments in response to COVID-19  can be found in the KPMG local branch website. For the updated information please visit the website of the Uzbekistani Ministry of Economy and Industry.

For a general overview of international SME support policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak refer to the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

Support plan for exporters
The country's government official sources do not provide yet information with regards to specific schemes in support of exporting companies following the coronavirus epidemic outbreak. 
For the updated information please visit the website of the Uzbekistani Ministry of Economy and Industry
 

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Latest Update: July 2022