Uzbekistan’s new e-commerce strategy for better market access

Building a successful ecosystem for small business

The Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan today launched an e-commerce strategy outlined in the roadmap for e-commerce sector development for 2023-2027. The strategy will support the digital economy over the next five years.

The strategy identifies priority activities prone to producing an enabling e-commerce environment for companies, such as capacity and skills development for a successful digital transformation. This will enable Uzbek companies to access new markets with limited financial implications and enhance their ability to improve their business models, processes and operations.

The e-commerce strategy was developed by the Ministry of Investments, Industry and Trade of Uzbekistan, in cooperation with the Ministry of Digital Technologies, the E-commerce Association, and other agencies, with the support of the International Trade Centre’s Ready4Trade Central Asia project, funded by the European Union (EU).

Сoordination for planning, budgeting, reporting and monitoring by key ministries and stakeholders, including the private sector and international development partners, is fundamental to the strategy’s successful implementation.

“The development of an e-commerce strategy is a new endeavor much needed to provide the direction and roadmap for all the agencies and stakeholders involved,” Sherzod Sodikov, Director of Digital Transformation Centre at the Ministry of Investments, Industry and Trade. “The Digital Transformation Centre that will take the responsibility to coordinate activities for strategy implementation, will be closely working with the state agencies and private sector. E-commerce offers enormous opportunities for businesses in Uzbekistan, and we want our companies to benefit fully from them.”

Charlotte Adriaen, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Uzbekistan, added: “Electronic commerce as an integral part of digitalization can be a powerful socio-economic development instrument. It can provide for job opportunities, especially for youth, women and people living outside of big cities, in rural areas, hence, contribute to solving contemporary social issues.”

Uzbekistan’s e-commerce sector has seen rapid development in recent years, with the number of mobile phones and internet users surging steadily. The number of trading platforms, delivery and postal services, as well as courier companies is also on the rise.

Uzbekistan has made steady progress on integrating a digital economy focus within its national development agenda, articulated via Digital Uzbekistan 2030.

Although the country’s e-commerce ecosystem and the overall digital economy are in the early stages of development, there are a range of factors contributing to an optimistic growth trajectory: the development of the internet infrastructure fit to support digitalization initiatives, the creation of the Information Technology (IT) Park, the endeavours to develop regional digital competency, the development of digital payment services and national online marketplaces, including two public sector marketplaces.

“The adopted strategy reflects the main challenges of e-commerce in particular, and of the economy of Uzbekistan as a whole,” said Muzaffar Aizamov, Chairman of the E-Commerce Association. “The purposeful implementation of the strategy will significantly simplify the conduct of e-commerce and the involvement of a wide stratum of entrepreneurship in it. At the same time, the E-Commerce Association hopes that the working interdepartmental commission created to implement the strategy has all chances to become an effective platform for direct dialogue between the business community and the government of Uzbekistan.”

Darius Kurek, Senior Officer of Export Strategy at the International Trade Centre concluded: “Designing the strategy is the first step in the process. Impact can only be achieved through its implementation, and this requires the efforts of all, through continued public-private cooperation, continuous dialogue and effective coordination among development partners.’

Prospects for e-commerce development

A revised e-commerce law, adopted in September 2022, will further boost the high potential of Uzbekistan’s e-commerce: the potential capacity of the e-commerce product market is about $1.6 billion a year, excluding the shadow sector and electronic services according to the E-commerce Association. The country’s population of almost 35 million provides a wide customers base for Uzbek e-commerce firms in the domestic market. With over 60% of the population under 30, the opportunities for a growing digital economy and integrating youth into economic activities look promising. Moreover, businesses in textiles, handicrafts and tourism sectors can expect achieving competitive advantage thanks to e-commerce.

About the project

Ready4Trade Central Asia is a four-year EU-funded project implemented by the International Trade Centre in close collaboration with national partners, designed to contribute to the overall sustainable and inclusive economic development of Central Asia by boosting intra-regional and international trade in the countries of the region. Beneficiaries of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project include governments, small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular women-led enterprises, and business support organizations.

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