The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently led a delegation of UAE business leaders to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to explore trade and investment opportunities within the country’s agricultural sector. The trade mission was organised by Dubai Chamber in partnership with the UAE Embassy in Uzbekistan, the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the UAE, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Uzbekistan, Uzbekozikovkatholding, and Dubai Municipality, which has worked very closely with the Chamber to support trade missions to four CIS countries, as well as the Eurasian Food Briefing held in Dubai during Gulfood 2017.
These initiatives have benefitted 550 Eurasian businesses by informing them of technical requirements associated with exporting food products to the UAE. During the visit, delegates met with representatives from Uzbekistan’s public and private sectors, including top executives of leading agribusiness companies in the country.
The Chamber also organised the Uzbekistan-UAE Food Export Briefing in Tashkent to showcase the benefits of trading with Dubai, and provide more clarity on requirements for food imports to the UAE. The briefing was attended by 90 delegates, and 70 business-to-business meetings were held after the event.
The briefing was addressed by Omar Khan, Director of International Offices at Dubai Chamber, Nazira Dadakhanova, Deputy Chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan, Mirabbos Aslanov, Head of Juridical Department at the Export Support Fund of Uzbekistan, and Amal Salem Saeed Al Bedwawi, Head – Food Studies and Risk Assessment Unit at Dubai Municipality.
During his welcome remarks, Khan pointed out that the expansion of direct flights between Dubai and Uzbekistan has supported non-oil bilateral trade, which amounted to AED 976 million ($266 million) in the first nine months of 2016, while the number of Uzbek companies registered with Dubai Chamber has recently exceeded 300. He also highlighted Uzbekistan’s position as one of Central Asia’s leading food producers and exporters.
“Uzbekistan has enormous agricultural potential to contribute to the UAE’s food security, and there are plenty of opportunities to diversify the supply of food products available in Dubai, particularly given the high quality of Uzbek products, such as fresh and dried fruits and vegetables,” said Khan.
He explained that the UAE is a key export market for many agribusiness companies in Uzbekistan. Food and agricultural products account for a fifth of Dubai’s imports from Uzbekistan. Uzbek products are known for their high-quality, and the country has the know-how to deliver organic produce, a product category which is seeing growing demand among consumers in the UAE.
Khan noted that the timing of the trade mission is ideal given Uzbekistan’s increased focus on diversifying exports amid current economic challenges in Eurasia brought on partly by the depreciation of the Russian ruble.
Uzbekistan has scaled up its exports of fruits and vegetables by 38.3% – to 818,500 tonnes in 2016, and this figure is expected to increase to 1.27 million tonnes by the end of this year. The government is also expected to push ahead with reforms that will aim to attract foreign investment, and introduce new free zones and an e-visa system that will facilitate tourism and improve ease of doing business.
Another major step toward boosting foreign trade was taken by Uzbekistan’s leadership with the establishment of UzAgroExport in 2016. This joint stock company specialises in the export of fresh and processed fruit and vegetable products, and facilitates contracts by finding food suppliers, guaranteeing timely deliveries, and ensuring that high-quality standards are maintained.
Nazira Dadakhanova, Deputy Chairperson for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan, lauded Dubai Chamber’s efforts to strengthen Dubai-Uzbekistan trade ties. “Uzbekistan possesses significant agricultural export potential, and Uzbekistan’s government considers Dubai a vital international business hub that can help diversify the country’s food exports. Opportunities also exist in expanding cooperation in the field of textiles, pharmaceuticals, green energy, and other industries,” said Dadakhanova.