The First Russia-Uzbekistan Forum of Interregional Cooperation is underway` at Uzexpocentre, which is Uzbekistan’s largest exhibition venue. The forum was attended by representatives of over 25 regions of the two countries, and more than 600 employees of various companies and organisations. The Russia-Uzbekistan Educational Forum is also being held on the sidelines of the forum.
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Speeches at the First Russia-Uzbekistan Interregional Cooperation Forum
President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev: Mr President, colleagues,
I am sincerely pleased to welcome President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and members of the Russian delegation to the First Uzbekistan-Russia Interregional Cooperation Forum. Its organisation and its high representational level are further evidence of the great mutual interest and the powerful potential of our cooperation. We highly appreciate and sincerely treasure our stable and trustworthy relations with the Russian Federation, our strategic partner and ally.
Today's talks, in an atmosphere of full mutual understanding, trust and openness, have revealed our firm desire to expand and strengthen our diverse cooperation in the interests of our peoples. Here we attach great importance to interregional contacts.
At this forum, you are discussing real practical aspects of business cooperation, specific projects and programmes of interaction. I sincerely welcome and support this approach. Interregional contacts have become highly intensive and effective. More than 40 mutual visits over a year. In the past several months alone, the heads of all 14 regions of our country visited 26 entities of the Russian Federation. Taking part in our join forum are the heads and representatives of 18 Russian regions. This is an unprecedented scale. I want to point out that it is you who determines the specific direction of cooperation.
We need to step up efforts to create joint technological production units and deepen interaction in manufacturing sought-after products and developing markets in other countries.
Let me cite several examples of this productive cooperation. These include the creation of a joint textile cluster, in cooperation with companies from Ivanovo Region, in regions of Uzbekistan (Navoiy Region), and the production of chemical fertilisers in Tashkent Region, and pharmaceutical chemicals in Karakalpakstan in cooperation with our partner from Tatarstan. Our cooperation uses the infrastructure opportunities of the wholesale and distribution centres in Moscow Region, Bashkortostan, Orenburg Region and other Russian entities in order to organise supplies of agricultural produce and create a modern horticulture complex in Surxondaryo Region for the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables to Moscow markets. There is also the construction of a plant for light and heavy metal fabrication in Qashqadaryo Region in cooperation with Sverdlovsk Region. There is a considerable number of similar projects.
However, the most essential result is that strong and long-term partnership relations have been established between our regions. I want to assure you that our colleagues from Uzbekistan, members of the Government, and the heads of ministries, departments and regions who are here will provide comprehensive assistance to the implementation of these projects. Our dear guests, you can be confident that every project will be carried out, because President Putin and I have been looking forward to this for a long time.
The forum will continue for two days. We have been discussing the problems and the bureaucratic barriers that exist between us. The foundation that has been developed between Uzbekistan and Russia today creates every opportunity for the removal of these barriers.
The heads of the regions in the Republic of Uzbekistan are in this hall today. I am pleased that you have become acquainted with each other, that you know your challenges and your opportunities. So, I want to say that the leaders of Uzbekistan, and the Government too, need to know – the Prime Minister and his deputies are also here – you need to know that this is the beginning of a great journey. If we indeed create the right conditions for each other – as I have said, we have many projects in order to jointly enter markets in third countries, third markets. Everything we are planning today is designed to create competition and make our products more competitive.
Mr President, colleagues,
Today we are opening a new strategic area of cooperation with the Russian Federation – the development of nuclear power engineering. I am pleased to note that a ceremony will be held here, in the presence of the heads of regions, to launch a project for the construction of Uzbekistan's first nuclear power plant. This project is part of a new cluster and implementation will serve the goal of promoting our industrial potential and creating new jobs in various branches of our country's economy.
In conclusion, I would like to point out that this interregional forum is to become an effective platform for direct business contacts and practical cooperation between the two countries' regions.
President Putin and I have agreed that this forum should be held annually. Once a year, we will meet with our colleagues, compare notes and review the results of these forums. I believe that there will certainly be great results when we introduce this on a regular basis.
I wish all of you success and new promising projects. Thank you for your attention.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends, colleagues,
I am pleased to welcome the participants of the first Russia-Uzbekistan forum of interregional relations and cooperation. This is a useful and promising area of interaction.
Ramified relations at the regional level are the most important component of bilateral contacts. Therefore, we were pleased to support the President’s initiative to hold such a forum in Tashkent during this visit.
Russia maintains such interregional interaction with our partners from a number of states, primarily the CIS countries, and, indeed, it has a good track record. This is a working and dynamic format.
We expect this Russia-Uzbekistan Interregional Cooperation Forum to become an annual event and to make a sizable contribution to promoting cooperation between the regions of Russia and Uzbekistan.
I am referring primarily to trade and economy, but not only. Interregional cooperation can be used to develop any kind of relations, including, of course, those in the humanitarian sphere.
Notably, our bilateral economic relations are quite successful. As was said many times today, our trade increased by 34 percent in 2017, and grew by another 30 percent in January-August. We see that contacts between the Russian regions and the regions of Uzbekistan are gaining momentum and becoming more diverse. Over 20 reciprocal visits by regional leaders have already taken place this year. From Russia, particularly active were the cities of Moscow, St Petersburg, Orenburg Region and Chelyabinsk Region.
We are aware that, at the suggestion of the President of Uzbekistan, our Uzbek colleagues from that country’s regions have stepped up their activities as well. This is impressive and quite promising.
As mentioned earlier, about 1,000 Russian participants from 30 Russian regions are taking part in this forum, including 10 governors and over 850 businesspeople. This is indicative of our serious commitment to working with our Uzbek partners. As we know from earlier remarks by the ministers and governors, forum participants discussed matters of economic and social development, infrastructure upgrades and the introduction of digital technology that are really important for the regions of the two countries. Most importantly, we joined efforts and looked for opportunities to enhance mutually beneficial cooperation in these and other promising areas.
Since our cooperation in the agricultural sector has been expanding at a strong rate recently, it is quite understandable that this subject was reviewed at a plenary session. I will also spend a moment discussing this area in more detail. Russian-Uzbek trade in agricultural produce grew by almost 40 percent to $340 million in just the first eight months of this year. I have no doubt that the numbers will continue to grow, also because Russia has created the most favourable terms and conditions for importing Uzbek agricultural products, introduced a green corridor customs system and approved a special phytosanitary control procedure. Reduced railway tariffs have been introduced as well. We discussed these issues during the President of Uzbekistan’s state visit to Moscow last year. As you can see, all these agreements have been implemented.
Of course, we will continue to streamline mutual trade and related logistics. In particular, it is imperative that we encourage backhaul freight to Uzbekistan with, of course, Russian-made products, including foods. We can do this since agricultural output in Russia has increased by more than 20 percent over the past five years. We believe this undoubtedly represents a breakthrough in developing agriculture in our country. We can state that a real breakthrough has been made in this area. Last year, we had a record grain harvest, 135 million tonnes. This year, we will harvest a little less, but still a lot at over 100 million tonnes.
I was recently in Stavropol Region and asked the manager of a company about their performance. He told me about it. I asked him how they acknowledged such results in the Soviet Union. They awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labour right away. While today this may not be something routine, but we are now accustomed to it. Russia is the world’s number one supplier of wheat and second in terms of grain crop distribution in general, and it is now significantly increasing exports of meat. Prospects are good in other areas as well, including advanced conversion products. In this context, we hope that the agricultural exhibition held as part of the forum will make it possible to establish good business contacts and start promising new joint projects.
Russia is ready to fully meet the needs of Uzbek farmers in high-quality agricultural equipment, and to help them upgrade the food and processing industry. Incidentally, Rostselmash, which is our largest company in the agricultural engineering sector, is starting a project to produce forage harvesters in Uzbekistan. Other Russian manufacturers have similar plans. We will continue to provide assistance in training employees for Uzbek agriculture. About 800 Uzbek students are studying at Russian agricultural colleges. A branch of the Aquaculture department of Astrakhan University will open in Tashkent in the next academic year.
Agriculture is important, but by far not the only area of cooperation. Opportunities for Russia-Uzbekistan cooperation are vast and promising, which was confirmed by today’s talks. I am confident that our respective regions will be even more actively involved in promoting bilateral partnerships.
The President of Uzbekistan and I will give our absolute support for your constructive initiatives and the joint projects you plan. Like the President of Uzbekistan, I wish you all the best and every success in your work.