Uzbekistan is open for business, says Ambassador Shakirov
With reforms well underway, Uzbekistan wants more S'porean companies, institutions to set up shop there
When companies eye expansion abroad, major considerations would include a fairly stable political system and a fertile business environment.
In Asia, countries such as Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia and Singapore have traditionally been attractive destinations for international companies to expand in, and for global business and investment.
Now Uzbekistan wants to get in on the act.
The country's Ambassador to Singapore, Mr Kakhramon Shakirov, says it is open for business, and hopes more Singaporeans will invest and work in Uzbekistan.
Speaking to The New Paper last Thursday, Mr Shakirov said: "Uzbekistan is a dynamic country. Since 2016, there have been large scale economic and political reforms which opened up our country to the international arena. Business regulations have been eased."
In a national broadcast in June on "Making a Living in a Covid-19 World", Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing urged Singaporeans to venture abroad and seize opportunities in a "fast-growing Asia", saying in his speech that the Government would support local companies in that effort.
Singapore has 23 years of diplomatic relations with Uzbekistan, and Mr Shakirov, 49, pointed out that Singaporean businesses have already made inroads in various sectors there, including textiles, education and agriculture.
SETTING UP SHOP
Right now, the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) is in talks to open a branch there.
Said Mr Shakirov: "We chose SUSS because they have a lifelong learning methodology which we would like to implement in Uzbekistan."
If successful, SUSS will not be the first Singaporean educational institution in Uzbekistan.
In 2008, the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) Tashkent was the first overseas campus set up by MDIS.
It is a joint venture between MDIS Singapore and the Uzbekistan Banking Association.
Businessman Kapoor Singh, 65, a Singapore permanent resident, has set up shop there.
His company Bedeil has an ice cream manufacturing plant in the Samarkand region.
It produces about 240,000 kg of ice cream per day, and it is transported all over the country.
Mr Shakirov says these are examples of Singapore entities that have found the business environment in Uzbekistan to be positive.
Today, there are more than 90 enterprises involving Singaporean capital in the country.
There are Singaporeans there working as managers, administrators and educators, who operate closely with local staff, Mr Shakirov said.
Mr Zulkifli Baharudin, Singapore's ambassador to Uzbekistan, says that since the country opened up, there are good opportunities for Singaporeans in Uzbekistan.
He said: "You must be quick to seize these opportunities. People have been looking for emerging markets, and there are not many left."
In a speech at the 75th United Nations General Assembly last week, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev listed 12 new initiatives to strengthen cooperation among nations, addressing issues like pandemics and poverty eradication.
Mr Shakirov said: "While at the initial stage, the government looked to set up joint ventures, the situation is now open.
"Foreign companies are eager to set up businesses (there)."