On June 15-17, a delegation of Uzbekistan headed by First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Rustam Azimov participated in the third conference of the China-Uzbekistan Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee and Third China-Central Asia Cooperation Forum in Rizhao, Shandong Province of China.
The Chinese side was headed by Meng Jianzhu, the Chinese Chairman of the China-Uzbekistan Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Secretary of the Commission of Political and Legal Affairs under the CPC Central Committee.
The Uzbek delegation also participated in the ceremony of inauguration for a regional center for trade and logistics. It also visited an urban planning exhibition center, Port of Rizhao and Rizhao Bonded Logistics Centre and took part in the third meeting of the subcommittee on cooperation in the energy sector.
The speakers noted that increasing the trade volume between the countries is one of the major tasks of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee. The volume of trade between Uzbekistan and China reached the level of $4.7 billion in 2014, and achieved the level of $1.2 billion in January-April 2015. The Uzbek side voiced its interest in taking the measures to expand the range of the traded goods, to establish joint production and sales of goods, including in the thirds countries.
Uzbekistan will host the next meeting of the China-Uzbekistan Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee in 2017.
China-Central Asia Cooperation Forum was established in 2012 by leadership of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Chinese Association for Friendship with Central Asian countries with the support of the State Council of China.
The organizers of the event on the theme “Jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and developing connectivity” are the Committee of the SCO for Good-neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation, and the administration of Rizhao city.
Rizhao Port is one of the top ten ports in China handling 110 million tons per year. Rizhao is also the starting point of the new Eurasian Continental Bridge from the east side, a convenient outlet to the sea for Central Asian countries and one of the important commercial ports within the ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy. This is the place for the two most convenient ports for trade with Central Asia, which together handle over 353 million tons of cargo.
One of the issues discussed during the forum was the creation of China-Central Asia Logistic Park with the charter capital of 60 million yuans. The Park will be constructed by Rizhao Port in cooperation with enterprises of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Speaking at the forum, Rustam Azimov stressed that attracting Chinese investment is necessary to establish export-oriented enterprises that produce modern consumer goods, building materials, products of the pharmaceutical industry, and other types of industrial products, components and semi-finished products. This would help cover the market of not only Central Asia (about 60 million of people), but also the markets of the CIS countries (about 300 million people), with which Uzbekistan has signed a Protocol with on joining the free trade zone.
The head of the Uzbek delegation noted that the cooperation with Chinese companies resulted in the implementation of dozens of projects in Uzbekistan, those “having strategic importance and becoming an essential part of the structural reforms.”
This includes construction of four lines of the Central Asia–China gas pipeline, Kungrad soda plant, and Dehkanabad potash fertilizer plant, supplying educational institutions with modern equipment, establishing digital networks, constructing and upgrading dozens of enterprises for the production of road-building equipment, and leather products.
First Deputy Prime Minister noted that Uzbekistan would soon start the process of selecting, preparing and then implementing the joint projects to ensure the expansion of transport and logistics, energy and communications infrastructure between the two countries.
Some 400 representatives of national and local authorities, business community of China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan attended the forum.
The volume of trade between China and the countries of Central Asia has currently reached $45 billion.
Following the event, the sides inked six important documents on further cooperation and a joint construction of the “Silk Road Economic Belt.”
As part of the visit, the Uzbek delegation held a series of key meetings with the government, and with the heads of leading financial, banking and oil and gas enterprises of China.
The initiative on the establishment of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee and its specialized sub-committees was first announced during the visit of President Islam Karimov to China in April 2011.
On October 26, 2011, the China-Uzbekistan Intergovernmental Committee for Cooperation was established in Beijing following the agreement reached.
The first meeting was held on October 25-26, 2011 in Beijing.
Meetings of the Committee and its subcommittees are held once every two years, alternately in Uzbekistan and China.