2009 Program & Events
Ambassador Addresses American Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Ambassador Richard Norland highlighted economic expansion projects and the strengthening bilateral relations between the U.S. and Uzbekistan during a speech Oct. 29 at the American Chamber of Commerce in Uzbekistan.
Norland spoke about the expansion of the Navoi airport into an international cargo hub, construction of the Navoi Free Industrial Economic Zone, and plans to extend rail links from the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan border to Mazar-e-sharif, where goods can be transferred to roads leading to other parts of Afghanistan and South Asia.
Norland also pointed out that talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with Uzbekistan and other Central Asian nations took place in Washington in October. And as a further sign of improving relations, Norland noted that Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake proposed a bilateral consultation mechanism be set in motion to discuss a range of issues between Uzbekistan and the U.S.
During his visit to Uzbekistan on Oct. 11, Blake invited a high-level Uzbek delegation to Washington to launch the process.
“I expect this process to take our relationship forward in each of the key dimensions – political, security, economic and human,” Norland said, adding that rebuilding trust between the two nations was critical. “I believe we are making real progress in restoring that trust. There will continue to be differences of approach, but we are finding ways to discuss these on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect. I am convinced that engagement is the best, and indeed the only, way to establish a common understanding on those issues each side values most.”
Ambassador Norland meets regularly with the American Chamber of Commerce in Uzbekistan (AmCham), a group of about 80 members representing the international business community in Uzbekistan. The hard work these business people have put in has been an integral part of Uzbekistan’s economic growth, he said.
There was a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 people Thursday, when Norland and Consul David Mico addressed the AmCham members. You can read the full text of Norland’s speech here. To learn more about Mico’s discussion of visas and other Consular services, please click here.
Donald Nicholson II, the president of AmCham, said he agreed that many factors were coming together to help improve the business environment in Uzbekistan. The Uzbek economy has weathered the global financial crisis well and is seeing continued growth, gold prices are strong, and natural gas production and transportation infrastructure is expanding, he noted.
“There’s real growth here, and most people are very encouraged,” Nicholson said.
Ambassador Norland said he has seen signs that some large American companies are renewing their interest in Uzbekistan, and that it is important to ensure that small- and medium-sized companies – which make up more than 60 percent of Uzbekistan’s gross domestic product – also have opportunities to do business here.
“Our job at the Embassy is to get them to give Uzbekistan a fair look. The job of the Uzbek authorities is to create and sustain conditions that make it a sound place to invest,” Norland said.