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23/April/2021   Politics

CIRS Expert: The beneficial cooperation between Uzbekistan and India corresponds to long-term interests of the two countries and can make a significant contribution to the restoration of historical connectivity of the Central and South Asia regions

TASHKENT, April 23. /“Dunyo” IA/. “The consistent deepening of political dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation between Uzbekistan and India corresponds to long-term interests of the two countries”, this conclusion is made by the Senior Researcher of the Center for International Relations Studies Nigina Magdiyeva in her article presented by the “Dunyo” IA.

“The strengthening of long-term strategic partnership with India is one of the priorities of Uzbekistan's foreign policy. During the past four years, Uzbek-Indian cooperation has reached a new, higher level. The relations between the two sides are based on traditional friendship and solid historical foundation. Dynamic bilateral cooperation has been developing practically in all areas.

First of all, there are regular and intensive political dialogues and official contacts. In 2011, the parties established relations of strategic partnership. Indian Prime Minister N. Modi's official visit to Uzbekistan in July 2015 highlighted Delhi's commitment to the development of Indian-Uzbek relations. The state visit by Uzbekistan's President Mirziyoyev to India in Autumn 2018, which resulted in the signing of 20 documents on cooperation, opened a new page in relations. The President's visit to India in January 2019 to participate in the "Dynamic Gujarat" investment summit confirmed Tashkent's desire to intensify cooperation. A virtual summit was held in December 2020 and a "Joint Statement on Close Friendship and Strong Partnership" and 9 documents on cooperation were adopted.

Regular dialogue between the leaders of the two countries is added by active contacts at the level of governments, parliaments and ministries. The 12th session of the Intergovernmental Commission on trade-economic and scientific-technical cooperation and the 14th round of political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs were held successfully in 2020. There were created inter-parliamentary groups on cooperation with the chambers of Indian Parliament in the Senate and the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan.

During the last four years, we have witnessed a considerable intensification of trade and economic cooperation with India. Today, there are over 280 enterprises with Indian capital operating in Uzbekistan, and joint projects worth over $650 million are being realized. The opening of the Uzbek-Indian trade center in New Delhi in 2017, the establishment of the Uzbek-Indian Center for Entrepreneurship Development in Tashkent in 2018, the establishment of the Uzbek-Indian Business Council together with the Confederation of Indian Industry - all this is aimed at ensuring intensive trade and investment exchange between business circles of both countries.  The Uzbek-Indian Committee for the Coordination and Promotion of Practical Implementation of Bilateral Projects, formed in 2019, is expected to strengthen state support for cooperation.

Last year, India and Uzbekistan reached agreements on implementation of 50 investment projects worth $3 billion. The Indian government has opened a credit line of $448 million for four development projects in Uzbekistan in such sectors as road construction, wastewater treatment and information technology.

At the same time, because of the low level of trade turnover ($442.6 million in 2020), the efforts are continuing to increase trade and exports of Uzbek products and to attract Indian direct investments. The government of Uzbekistan creates favorable conditions and welcomes investments by Indian companies in the production of chemical goods, medicines, textile, leather industries, information technologies and telecommunications. Special attention is given to the implementation of joint projects with Indian companies in Uzbekistan's free economic zones, including seven pharmacological FEZs.

The development of cooperation in the transport and logistics sector is of great importance in promoting cooperation with India. A cardinal improvement of transport and other infrastructure connectivity of the two countries, as well as the Central and South Asian regions, is necessary for ensuring a significant increase in mutual trade and investment.

In this context, the government of Uzbekistan supported India's accession to the Ashgabat Agreement (on the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman transport corridor). Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries also support New Delhi's efforts to develop Iran's Chabahar port, which is set to become a key transit hub for India's trade with Afghanistan and other Central Asian states. In December 2020. Uzbekistan, India and Iran held the first meeting of a trilateral working group on joint use of Chabahar port.

There is considerable potential for cooperation in civil aviation and air cargo transportation. The Indian side proposes opening air corridors to Central Asian countries for transportation of fruits and vegetables, food and other agricultural products. According to Uzbek experts, charter cargo flights to India are possible from Tashkent, Navoi and other aviation hubs of Uzbekistan.

It should also be emphasized that the interests of both countries and solving the problems of transport cooperation between the regions of Central and South Asia can be contributed by the initiative put forward by the President of Uzbekistan at the 75th session of the UN GA to establish the Regional Center for the Development of Transport and Communication Interconnectivity.

There are significant prospects for cooperation in the areas of information technology, digital economy, education and culture, in which the Indian side has great potential and advantages.

Technopark of Software Products and Information Technologies was launched in Tashkent in 2019. Branches of Indian universities Amiti in Tashkent and Sharda in Andijan opened in 2018. Institutes of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan conduct joint research with research centers in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. The interaction with Indian partners can promote implementation of the "Digital Uzbekistan-2030" Strategy, introduction of the aerospace technologies, the development of nuclear energy and the improvement of the banking system, as well as the modernization of healthcare and improving the quality of medical services to people.

Expansion of direct ties between cities and regions of the two countries, cultural and tourist exchange can contribute not only to the socio-economic development of the territories of Uzbekistan, but also strengthen the humanitarian basis of relations.

Active regional and international interaction between Tashkent and New Delhi has become an important part of political dialogue and practical cooperation. India-Central Asia Dialogue initiated by the leaders of the two countries in Samarkand in January 2019 with the participation of Afghanistan at the level of foreign ministers was a major event. As part of the Dialogue, the India-Central Asia Business Council was established in New Delhi in February 2020, underscoring the practical orientation of interaction. The 2nd meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue and the 2nd meeting of the Business Council were held in October 2020 by videoconference.

The Uzbek side actively supported India and Pakistan joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, interaction within which becomes an important part of bilateral political dialogue. Uzbekistan's chairmanship in the SCO in 2021-2022 may facilitate further deepening of official exchange and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

The participation of the two countries in promoting the connectivity of Central and South Asian regions can become an important component of regional interaction between the two countries and a key to enhancing bilateral and interregional trade and economic cooperation. The international conference "Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities", to be held in Tashkent in July 2021, offers good opportunities for deepening the political dialogue and cooperation between the two countries.

In general, the economically fast-growing India is set to become an important and stable partner of Uzbekistan in trade, investment, high tech and tourism. The consistent deepening of political dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation between Uzbekistan and India corresponds to long-term interests of the two countries and can make a significant contribution to the restoration of historical connectivity of the Central and South Asia regions”.

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