Uzbekistan set on e-commerce growth

ITC provides technical support to Uzbekistan’s national e-commerce strategy, highlighting the country’s digital development as driver of economic growth.

Uzbekistan is currently finalizing its national e-commerce strategy. Under its EU-funded ‘Ready4Trade Central Asia’ project, the International Trade Centre has offered the country technical support in designing the strategy.

Since last year, ITC has worked closely with Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade and Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications, as well as the country’s E-commerce association in turning the design process into reality, producing a draft document ready for the Government’s endorsement. The process of finding practical solutions to developing e-commerce included multiple consultations with public and private stakeholders.

The Central Asian nation recognizes more and more that e-commerce can be a solid catalyst for trade and economic growth, particularly for developing economies and economies in transition. The relative ease in which businesses – from start-ups to small businesses – can benefit from an online presence, is accelerating the growing trend in “going digital”.

The digital pathway

The development of the digital economy is defined as the main “driver” of economic growth with an increase in its share by at least 2.5 times, as stated in the New Uzbekistan’s Development Strategy for 2022-2026 Decree, signed 1 February 2022.

With a population of around 35 million people, the largest within the Central Asian countries, Uzbekistan offers a significant domestic market for e-commerce firms. This is important because most Uzbek e-commerce companies will first target the domestic space before branching out to cross-border e-commerce.

Those that have the capacity to target new markets are already trading successfully through renowned online platforms such as Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and others.

A recent statement by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, H.E. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, at the Opening Ceremony of the First Tashkent International Investment Forum, held 22-24 March 2022, indicated Uzbekistan’s intention to reach new export markets.

In view of the path towards digital transformation, wide-scale reforms in the fields of IT and e-commerce are currently underway in the country.

Finetuning Uzbekistan’s national e-commerce strategy

Several developments are shaping the national e-commerce strategy in Uzbekistan.

Among these is the formation of the National E-Commerce Strategy working group in July 2021. The working group consists of public-private players and development partners, who identify important activities for the e-commerce strategy action plan. Once endorsed by the government, implementation of the strategy will officially commence.

A new version of the e-commerce law was adopted by the Legislative Chamber in the first reading in March 2022. Other developments include creating digital payment solutions, courier companies, and logistics systems.

The Center for Digital Transformation was recently assigned by the Presidential Decree as the organ that will oversee the development of e-commerce.

These developments coincide with online giants such as Amazon and Alibaba’s expression of intention to launch operations in the Uzbek market. Amazon recently added Central Asian states to the list of countries permitted to register and sell their goods on its platform.

Meanwhile, a cooperation agreement with China’s largest e-commerce player, Alibaba Group, intends to provide Uzbek entrepreneurs with unique access to the electronic B2B system and a separate e-commerce section, thus providing them with an opportunity to use the online marketplace.  

About the project

With the project ‘Ready4Trade Central Asia’, the European Union and the International Trade Centre are joining forces to contribute to the overall sustainable and inclusive economic development of Central Asia by boosting intra-regional and international trade in the region. Beneficiaries of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project include governments, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular women-led enterprises, and business support organizations. The project operates in five countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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