Uzbek officials are on a mission to reform the country’s capital markets. Their objective? Pull off a series of privatizations, IPOs and debt issues so that by offering a wider range of stocks and bonds, they can attract foreign investors and raise much-needed funds for government coffers and to rejuvenate public and private enterprises.
The government began working on its comprehensive reform agenda after Shavkat Mirziyoyev was elected president in 2016. Taking on an economy dominated by heavy-handed state actors, its first breakthrough decision was to open up business and finance to the private sector.
At the end of 2020, the government announced that it would fully or partially privatize more than 620 public companies and properties to transform the former Soviet republic into a more dynamic market economy. However, critics complain that the focus has been on the partial divestiture of small or non-essential state assets, rather than the privatization of larger and more important companies.
The Uzbek economy has weathered the Covid-19 pandemic relatively well. It increased by 1.7% in terms of real growth in 2020, one of the few countries to maintain positive real growth, according to a report by S&P Global Ratings. GDP growth is expected to be 6.5%