Bridges: With economic reform driving the Uzbekistan economy forward, what are your expectations for the country in 2022?
Takahashi: Uzbekistan’s integration into the world economy will be further accelerated in 2022. Preparations for the privatization of state-owned enterprises and the issuing of bonds outside the country will continue.
Government involvement in industry will be reduced and private capital will be more active. Major companies from the Middle East, Russia, China, South Korea and Europe will continue to carry out large-scale projects, particularly in areas such as power generation and natural gas processing.
At the same time, challenges to the national economy will gradually emerge, such as the disparity between rich and poor resulting from rapid economic liberalisation, and the need for proper macroeconomic and fiscal management to maintain a stable exchange rate and introduce an inflation targeting system.
In order to improve these problems and the balance of payments, which depends on gold exports, in the medium and long term, the government’s policy of increasing the labour productivity of young people through attracting foreign investment and active government support in the education and IT sectors should be continued.
As Uzbekistan continues to diversify its economy, what opportunities do you see for increased Uzbekistan-Japan cooperation?
Uzbekistan has the most diversified industry among the countries of the former Soviet Union. There are possibilities for cooperation in various fields, such as chemistry, food processing, agriculture, textile industry, mechanical processing, IT, educational services, tourism, etc.
Japanese business in Uzbekistan has also gradually broadened from large companies to small and medium-sized enterprises in recent years. The exchange of people between Japan and Uzbekistan is also expanding. When people move, capital moves. I am convinced of the future expansion of economic relations between our two countries.