Uzbekistan regards Germany as its most important partner in the European Union. Cooperation encompasses a whole range of areas within society. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s visit to Germany in January 2019 was an important signal for the further development of relations between the two countries. Germany supports Uzbekistan’s willingness to engage in regional cooperation and urges the country to continue its efforts to implement further reforms and improve the human rights situation.
From 2002 to 2015, the Bundeswehr used the air transport base in the southern Uzbek city of Termez for its missions in neighbouring Afghanistan.
According to Uzbek statistics, Germany ranked sixth among Uzbekistan’s trading partners in 2017, accounting for 2.3 percent of the country’s total foreign trade, behind China (18.5 percent), Russia (17.9 percent), Kazakhstan (7.7 percent), Turkey (5.7 percent) and South Korea (5.1 percent). These figures are taken from the 2017 statistics published by the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics (stat.uz). Germany’s main exports to Uzbekistan are machinery, motor vehicles and vehicle parts as well as pharmaceuticals. According to the Federal Statistical Office, bilateral trade was worth approximately 607 million euros in 2017, an increase of 32 percent over the previous year. From January to October 2018, it grew by a further 16 percent.
German companies’ interest in Uzbekistan has to date focused mainly on trade and less on direct investment. Major investors include MAN, Knauf, Gühring and Claas. The Uzbek Government is, however, making efforts to improve the investment climate, for example by simplifying registration requirements, lowering tariffs and offering investors tax relief and other incentives. In early September 2017, the strict exchange control system was eased and the currency devalued by over 90 percent. Since then, foreign private individuals and all companies have been able to change Uzbek som for foreign currency relatively freely. Nonetheless, a number of obstacles – bureaucracy, lack of legal certainty and localisation requirements – continue to prevent the potential for economic relations between Germany and Uzbekistan from being fully realised.
The German Government sees bilateral development cooperation as a way to support the implementation of social and economic human rights both in Uzbekistan and in the Central Asian region as a whole. One current priority in the project work of German implementing organisations in Uzbekistan is to provide support to Uzbekistan’s health care sector with the aim of improving the health of the country’s population. As of 2019, sustainable economic development will again be supported as a priority. Since 1993, the German Government has provided more than 380 million euros for technical and financial cooperation projects with Uzbekistan. The country also participates in some German development cooperation cross-border regional projects, for instance to support the rule of law in Central Asia.
Culture and education
Cultural cooperation is based on the cultural agreement signed in 1993 and in force since 2002. German cultural intermediaries (Goethe-Institut, Federal Office of Administration - Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA), German Adult Education Association (DVV international)) and political foundations are active in Uzbekistan.
There are intensive contacts in higher education, for instance in the fields of German studies and cultural heritage preservation. As part of the Federal Foreign Office’s Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH), seven grammar and other schools with enhanced German instruction are supported by the ZfA, and the Goethe-Institut cooperates with twelve other schools. The Goethe-Institut also supports German Reading Rooms in both Tashkent and Samarkand and has a service point offering information material in Fergana. German language courses are in great demand. There are nearly half a million people learning German in Uzbekistan.
In recent years, there has been lively exchange between German and Uzbek artists. Projects by the German Embassy and other German organisations are increasingly being conducted in Uzbekistan’s provinces. These include concerts and master classes with German artists, theatre workshops and sporting events.
Through the Federal Foreign Office’s Cultural Preservation Programme, the German Government plays a special role in preserving Uzbekistan’s unique architectural heritage. The projects conducted so far include work on the dome of the Tilla Kari Madrassa in Samarkand, the Shakhi-Zinda necropolis, the Ishrat-Khana Mausoleum in Samarkand and the Abdul Aziz Khan Madrassa in Bukhara, as well as projects to digitise 5000 old glass-plate negatives at the Museum of History and Art of the Uzbek People and to preserve ancient manuscripts at the regional branch of the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences in Nukus.
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