Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao today met with the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and signed loan agreements totaling $573 million. Mr. Nakao expressed confidence in the country's economic prospects and reiterated ADB's support for the government's development agenda.
Mr. Nakao's 3-day visit to Uzbekistan included meetings with the First Deputy Chairman of the Senate Sodik Safaev, First Deputy Prime Minister Achilbay Ramatov, Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov, Minister of Finance and ADB Governor Batir Khodjaev, and other senior officials.
Uzbekistan's economic performance has remained strong, despite a difficult external environment marked by slower trade due to reduced demand for key commodities. In 2016, the economy expanded by 7.8%. Public investment has driven much of the growth, as the government continued implementation of large scale infrastructure and industrial modernization programs. Mr. Nakao said "Uzbekistan's midterm economic outlook is favorable, given abundant skilled labor, rich natural resources, and reform efforts by the government."
During discussions with President Mirziyoyev, Mr. Nakao congratulated the government on its recently approved medium-term national development strategy, which aims to increase growth and job creation across the country. "I am highly encouraged by the government's determination to diversify its economy and to maintain strong support for good governance," said Mr. Nakao.
In line with the government's strategy, Mr. Nakao mentioned that ADB is planning to provide $2.6 billion in sovereign loans during 2017-2019 to expand infrastructure development in energy (power generation and transmission), transport (roads and railways), and urban sectors (water supply and sanitation), increase support for rural housing, and improve access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and agribusiness. He expressed his intention to strengthen ADB's support for health, in particular primary healthcare, and education, including technical and vocational education and training. ADB may consider additional financing depending on further discussion with the authorities.
ADB is also ready to increase non-sovereign operations through equity investments and loans to private companies. Currently, ADB is implementing the trade finance program, which facilitates credit for Uzbek businesses to access regional and global markets.
In the area of energy infrastructure, important ADB investment includes the construction of the Talimarjan high-efficiency combined cycle plant. In the transport sector, ADB is supporting the development of roads and railway networks to increase connectivity within Uzbekistan and with neighboring countries.
ADB is working with the government to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Since 2001, ADB-financed projects have benefited more than 4.5 million people with the provision of water supply and sanitation services. Since 2011, an ADB-financed rural housing program has provided affordable housing-with modern amenities-to more than 41,000 Uzbek families living in rural areas.
During the visit, Mr. Nakao signed loan agreements for four projects totaling $573 million. The Small Business Finance Project will provide $100 million to help expand access to finance for rural and women-owned small businesses. Tashkent Province Water Supply Development Project in the amount of $121 million will improve the lives of over 3 million people. The Horticulture Value Chain Development Project will provide $154 million to upgrade and establish intensive orchards, modern and efficient greenhouses, and processing and storage facilities nationwide. The Kashkadarya Regional Road Project will revitalize and upgrade 77 km of regional roads through a $198 million loan.
Mr. Nakao visited a solar energy facility in Samarkand, where ADB is financing the construction of a 100 megawatt solar power plant. He also visited small businesses in Samarkand and Bukhara related to SME financing, jointly provided by ADB and the Uzbek government through local commercial banks.
During the meetings, ADB agreed with the government that joint efforts will be enhanced to improve project readiness and expedite project implementation including procurement procedures on both sides.
Since joining ADB in 1995, Uzbekistan has received 63 loans totaling $5.7 billion, including two private sector loans totaling $225 million, $6 million in equity investment, $200 million in guarantees, and $74 million in technical assistance grants.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members-48 from the region.