Our comprehensive assessment of Uzbekistan's operating environment and the outlook for its leading sectors are formed by bringing together a wealth of data on global markets that affect Uzbekistan, as well as the latest industry developments that could impact Uzbekistan's industries. This unique integrated approach has given us an impeccable track-record for predicting important shifts in the markets, ensuring you’re aware of the latest market opportunities and risks in Uzbekistan before your competitors.

Country Risk

Uzbekistan Country Risk

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CORE VIEWS

  • The Kazakh economy is past the worst, with a rebound in oil prices offering support for the tenge, mitigating inflationary pressures, and allowing for monetary policy easing in the coming months.

  • Kyrgyzstan's economy will struggle to recover in the coming quarters despite the gradual rebound in commodity prices, which will materialise over this period. Regulatory and political uncertainty, subdued remittances from Russia, and weak external demand will keep a lid on the country's recovery.

  • Economic conditions in Tajikistan will continue to deteriorate despite a gradual rebound in commodity prices in the coming quarters. While a credit line arrangement with the International Monetary Fund will help the country avoid a balance of payments crisis, this will come at the expense of huge costs to the economy.

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Uzbekistan Operational Risk Coverage (9)

Uzbekistan Operational Risk

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BMI View : As a populous nation with a geographically strategic location, extensive natural resource wealth and healthy economic growth, Uzbekistan theoretically presents investors with a healthy range of potential development opportunities. In practice, however, a closed economy, subdued global demand for commodities, ongoing security threats, limited transport and power infrastructure and widespread corruption pose severe risks to businesses. Further risks include extensive bureaucratic barriers to doing business in the country, complex taxation regulations and an inefficient judiciary that is lacking in impartiality. As a result, the country has a poor score of 37.9 out of 100 on the BMI...

Uzbekistan Crime & Security

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Uzbekistan poses a high degree of security risks to foreign business travellers, expatriates, and tourists. For the most part, the greatest risks to these groups are petty crime such as pick-pocketing and theft, rather than violent crimes. Uzbekistan's murder rate, at 3.7 per 100,000 in 2012, was significantly lower than its fellow Central Asian republics Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, where the rate is around nine per 100,000. Organised crime and drug-related crime also exist in Uzbekistan, but are unlikely to affect foreigners. Corruption is a major problem in Uzbekistan, and erodes the integrity of the country's law enforcement agencies.

Terrorism poses a significant threat to the Uzbek state, and combating this is arguably the government's top security priority. The main threat has stemmed from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), although a major crackdown drove its militants into neighbouring countries. Uzbekistan's adjacency to...

Uzbekistan Labour Market

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There are significant risks to investors associated with both the labour market and the education system, with particular problems including low levels of workforce participation, low levels of secondary school enrolment and poor educational attainment by those who do attend. These disadvantages are compensated for somewhat by the benefits of a cheap and flexible workforce. We have awarded Uzbekistan a score of 45.2 for Labour Risk, putting it close to the bottom of the table when compared to regional peers; only Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina perform worse.

Weaknesses in the availability of labour are perhaps the most disappointing element of the employment landscape in Uzbekistan, given the country's strong economic growth, low costs and flexible legal regime. Despite a good level of female employment, participation in the workforce is 54.4%, the third lowest proportion in the region. Causes include the country's low level of urbanisation...

Uzbekistan Logistics

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BMI View: Uzbekistan's geographic location, as a double-landlocked country in the middle of Central Asia poses considerable risks to potential investors. A lack of adequate road and rail connectivity hampers supply chains and importing and exporting goods is costly and time-consuming. Although fuel and electricity costs are low, this benefit is largely offset by the extensive risk of interruptions to supply due to poor quality power infrastructure. The lack of adequate water protection is also a substantial risk, with Uzbekistan considered to be one of the world's most vulnerable states in terms of water security. Overall, Uzbekistan is a regional underperformer on the BMI ...

Uzbekistan Trade & Investment

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Although it has enjoyed economic growth above 7% for the past three years, Uzbekistan is a challenging investment destination, with foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country faltering in recent years. Key deterrents for investors include a deeply corrupt and inefficient public administration, stifling border controls and high levels of government involvement in private economic activity. However, a stable financial system and lucrative natural resource opportunities mean investors are likely to continue to take an interest in the country.

We have given Uzbekistan a score of 40.8 out of 100 for Trade and Investment Risks in our Logistics Risk Index. This is low by regional standards, putting Uzbekistan ahead only of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan's poor performance results from a number of factors, with a government policy of discouraging and replacing imports probably the most serious issue facing the country, particularly as it...

Uzbekistan Industry Coverage (17)

Autos

Uzbekistan Autos

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BMI View: A combination of a still-sluggish economy and a weakening currency will lead to further challenges for the Kazakh new vehicle sales market in 2016. We are forecasting 2% sales growth for the sector as a whole, with commercial vehicles set to outperform passenger cars. For Uzbekistan, the near-term outlook is also challenging and we are forecasting 1.5% sales growth for the sector, with commercial vehicles again set to outperform passenger cars.

Vehicle Sales By Country
(2013-19)
f = BMI forecast. Source:...

Defence & Security

Uzbekistan Defence & Security

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BMI View: Kazakhstan's determination to develop a solid domestic defence manufacturing base has been exemplified in its strong push to setting up numerous joint ventures and partnerships with key foreign industry players as well as its efforts to organise its own international exhibition of weapons and military equipment - KADEX. With a somewhat unstable regional environment, Kazakhstan will see to its defence expenditure being increased over our forecast period in an effort to be ready to combat any potential breaches in security. However, BMI believes that if it is to truly excel in this field and achieve its goal of creating a strong...

Infrastructure

Uzbekistan Infrastructure

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BMI View: Economic headwinds are taking their toll on Uzbekistan's Construction industry. However, growth will resume its moderate long-term trajectory in 2016, with a raft of major projects in a pipeline that receives significant development bank and government investment, as well as from key trade partners such as China and South Korea. Growth will average 4.5% annually over our 10 year forecast to 2025, when the industry value will reach UZS53.9bn (USD9.3bn).

Latest Updates And Structural Trends

  • Uzbekistan announced a five-year USD55bn plan to carry out 900 projects to modernise industrial facilities and build infrastructure, especially in the gas petrochemical sectors and construction of roads and airports.

  • Uzbek President Islam Karimov signed a resolution...

Metals

Uzbekistan Metals

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BMI View: We have increased our 2016 tin price forecast to USD16,500/tonne owing to a stabilisation in the Chinese economy over Q116 that has boosted all industrial metal prices significantly over January-April. While we expect consolidation over the remainder of 2016, tin prices will continue to recover beyond 2016 as the global market posts sustained market deficits and inventories dwindle.

Global - Tin Supply, Demand & Price Forecasts
2014 2015e 2016f ...

Uzbekistan Metals

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BMI view: We have revised our aluminium price forecast from USD1,575/tonne to USD1,600/tonne in 2016, as the tightening market provided an earlier than expected floor in Q116. Aluminium prices will gradually edge higher as the global market moves into a deficit by 2018.

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Global - Aluminium Supply, Demand & Price Forecasts
2014 2015e 2016f 2017f

Uzbekistan Metals

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BMI View: Despite the strong H116 iron ore price rally, prices will edge lower due to weakening Chinese consumption over the latter half of 2016. From 2017 onwards, iron ore prices will remain subdued as iron ore prices remain under pressure from an over-supplied seaborne market, driven by strong production growth in Australia and Brazil, and weak consumption growth in China.

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Global - Iron Ore Production Forecasts
2013 2014 2015e 2016f

Uzbekistan Metals

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BMI View: Nickel prices will bottom in 2016 as weak production drags the global market into deficit. For instance, we expect Chinese imports of nickel to grow over the coming quarters. Prices will begin 2016 weaker than we had previously expected and we have thus revised down our 2016 average price forecast to USD9,000/tonne from USD10,500/tonne.

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Global Nickel Forecasts
2013 2014 2015e

Uzbekistan Metals

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BMI View: We have revised down our average copper price forecast for 2016 to USD4,900/tonne. We expect prices to find a floor over the first half of 2016, and begin to stabilise thereafter, supported by production cuts and modest consumption growth.

Global - Copper Supply, Demand & Price Forecasts
2014 2015e 2016f 2017f 2018f ...

Uzbekistan Metals

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BMI View: We have raised our gold price forecast for 2016 to USD1,275/oz and have a new five-year price target of USD1,400/oz. We have turned more positive towards prices due to rising inflation pressures and our view that real rates will remain depressed in developed markets beyond 2016. A modest rise in prices will be insufficient to reverse the trend of weak mine investment and industry consolidation.

BMI Gold Forecasts
2014 2015 2016f ...

Uzbekistan Metals

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BMI View: Global steel prices will remain subdued due to a persistent steel oversupply over the coming quarters. From 2017 onwards, steel prices will gradually edge higher as the global steel surplus will narrow due to Chinese supply moderation.

Steel Price Forecast
2014 2015 2016f 2017f 2018f 2019f...

Uzbekistan Metals

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BMI View: We maintain our average zinc price forecast for 2016 of USD1,750/tonne. We expect zinc prices to reach a floor over the first half of 2016, and begin to stabilise thereafter, as production cuts shift the market to a deficit.

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Global - Zinc Supply, Demand & Price Forecasts
2014 2015e 2016f 2017f 2018f

Uzbekistan Metals

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BMI View: Lead prices will gradually edge higher as the global lead market will shift into deficit by 2017 as production growth will slow over the coming years.

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BMI Lead Price Forecast
Current* 2016f 2017f 2018f 2019f 2020f

Oil & Gas

Uzbekistan Oil & Gas

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BMI View: Our outlook for Uzbekistan's gas sector remains positive as we expect gas production and export figures to remain strong across our forecast period to 2024. However, the country's oil sector will continue on a downward slope leaving the country increasingly more dependent on refined fuels imports and subjecting it to potential fuel shortages.

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Headline Forecasts (Uzbekistan 2013-2019)
2013e 2014e 2015f 2016f

Petrochemicals

Uzbekistan Petrochemicals

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While Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are set to open new petrochemicals facilities, there are strong downside risks associated with depressed export markets, uncompetitive feedstock prices and sluggish domestic demand. Investment decisions are being postponed and plant construction is being delayed due to ongoing problems facing the Central Asian economies.

In 2015, Central Asia's petrochemicals capacities include 240,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) ethylene, 125,000tpa polyethylene (PE) and 120,000tpa polypropylene (PP). The size of the industry was far less than the size of just one world-scale petrochemicals complex in the Middle East, yet Central Asia is only just leveraging its significant potential in terms of feedstock due to massive upstream resources.

  • Uzbekistan should begin commercial operations in 2016 at an ethane cracker with capacity to produce 400,000tpa of ethylene as well as downstream units with...

Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

Uzbekistan Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

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BMI View: Non-communicable conditions will remain the leading contributors to Uzbekistan's burden of disease. Nevertheless, the country will be challenged in managing a tuberculosis epidemic and improving its relatively poor prognosis for infectious diseases control. Pharmaceutical companies with drug portfolios addressing both infectious diseases and chronic diseases will see commercial opportunities arise in Uzbekistan. However, we expect that this will be moderated by the low affordability of pharmaceuticals and the limited capacity of the Uzbek healthcare system to purchase medicines.

Headline Expenditure Projections

  • Pharmaceuticals: UZS2.78trn (USD956mn) in 2015 to UZS3.43trn (USD1.14bn) in 2016; 23.1% in local currency terms and 19.7...

Power

Uzbekistan Power

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BMI View: Gas-fired power will remain the dominant source of electricity in Uzbekistan as strong domestic gas production, limited gas export outlets and modernisation of ageing gas-fired power generating capacity will slow efforts to diversify the power mix. Economic headwinds will further weigh on power sector expansion, as plummeting prices for gold, cotton and copper will shrink export revenues significantly - representing a pertinent obstacle to an uptick in government-backed investment.

Latest Updates And Structural Trends

  • The development of Kyrgyzstani and Tajikistani hydropower will remain a contentious issue in Central Asia, as Uzbekistan strongly opposes developments due to worries that the downstream of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers will suffer negative...

Telecommunications

Uzbekistan Telecommunications

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BMI View: We maintain a cautiously optimistic outlook for the Central Asian telecommunications market as a whole. There are some growth opportunities in the region, particularly with regard to 3G and 4G technology Uptake. Nevertheless, state interference and political risk remains the most important risk of doing business in the Central Asian region. This was again amplified as government involvement became a key theme over the course of 2015. In Turkmenistan, a new state-owned company was created to spur competition, in Kyrgyzstan, state-owned Kyrgyz Mobile Company was sold to state-owned MegaCom and in Uzbekistan, state-owned Uzmobile launched a GSM network to better...

Latest Uzbekistan Articles

  • With global growth continuing to stutter amid unconvincing growth performan...

  • A few key themes stand out when comparing BMI's forecasts against Bloomberg...

  • China's 'One Belt One Road' (OBOR) initiative, aiming at expanding its econ...

Latest Uzbekistan Blogs

  • China's ambitious plan to build connections with Europe and the Middle East...

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