Bridges: What is JICA’s role in facilitating exchanges between Japan and Uzbekistan?
Miyazaki: Our activities in Uzbekistan cover various sectors including energy, agriculture, transportation, medical and education. We have adopted several schemes and facilitate exchanges between people (technical cooperation, volunteer work), provide financial assistance, promote business collaborations between our two countries and introduce Japanese companies to Uzbekistan.
What needs to be done to attract more investors to Uzbekistan?
Foreign investors, including those from Japan associate Uzbekistan with challenges relating to geography and the fact Uzbekistan is a landlocked country and climate (the rapidly disappearing Aral Sea). However, Uzbekistan has huge potential for future development.
The population is well-educated, the economy is well-balanced, cost of living is not expensive and the country has an abundance of natural resources. It is important to raise the awareness of the advantages within the country and the efforts being made to address the challenges being faced.
In what sectors do you see the greatest potential?
Uzbekistan has several promising sectors, all with comparative advantages. The country’s ‘Agro-industry’ is now rapidly shifting from conventional wheat / cotton to horticultural.
The country’s manufacturing sector is benefiting from the country’s well educated and population and competitive cost of labour.
This shift is leading to water-saving initiatives, job creation and international competitiveness. The Tourism sector is important and Uzbekistan’s rich historical heritage is known all over the world.
With the opening of the Uzbekistan economy and social reforms taking place, what does the future hold for the country?
We believe that continuous efforts to reinforce infrastructure projects and advances in social reform will enable the country to enhance its competitiveness. Stable economic growth is expected, underpinned by strong public finances. These factors will further improve social services such as medical care and education.
Many young Uzbek people are interested in Japanese language and culture. They will also be the bridge between Uzbekistan and Japan, not only in terms of culture, but also in business.