For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.

Flag of Uzbekistan is three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), red-edged white, and green with a white crescent moon and 12 white stars in the upper hoist-side quadrant.

PROFILE

OFFICIAL NAME:
Republic of Uzbekistan

Geography
Area: 447,400 sq. km., slightly larger than California.
Major cities: Capital--Tashkent (pop. 2.5 million); Samarkand (600,000); Bukhara (350,000).
Terrain: Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat, intensely irrigated river valleys along Amu Darya, Syr Darya; shrinking Aral Sea; semiarid grasslands surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in east.
Climate: Mid-latitude desert; long, hot summers, mild winters.

People
Nationality: Uzbek.
Population (July 2005 est.): 26,851,195.
Ethnic groups (1996 est.): Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5%.
Religions: Muslim 88% (Sunni), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%.
Languages: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%.
Education: Literacy--97% (total population).
Health (2005 est.): Life expectancy--60.82 years men; 67.73 years women.
Work force (11.9 million): Agricultural and forestry--44%, industry--20%; services--36%.

Government
Type: Republic.
Independence: September 1, 1991.
Constitution: December 8, 1992.
Branches: Executive--president, prime minister, cabinet. Legislative--unicameral, 250-seat Supreme Assembly (Oliy Majlis). Judiciary--Supreme Court, constitutional court, economic court.
Administrative subdivisions (viloyatlar): 12, plus autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan and city of Tashkent.
Political parties and leaders: Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party--established February 18, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 11, Turgunpulat DAMINOV, first secretary; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milly Tiklanish Democratic Partiya) or MTP--established on June 3, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 10, Ibrohim GOFUROV, chairman; Fatherland Progress Party (Vatan Tarakiyoti) or VTP--In April 2000, VTP merged with the National Democratic Party "Fidokorlar" (Fidokorlar Milliy Democratic Partiya), in Tashkent, number of seats in the parliament 62, Ahtam TURSUNOV, first secretary; People's Democratic Party or PDPU (Uzbekiston Halq Democratic Partiya, formerly Communist Party)--established November 1, 1991 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 50, Asliddin RUSTAMOV, first secretary. Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan-- established December 3, 2003, Kobiljon TOSHMATOV, chairman. Other political or pressure groups and leaders: Birlik (Unity) Movement--Abdurakhim PULATOV, chairman; Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party--Mohammed SOLIH, chairman (banned Dec. 1992); party of Agrarians and Entrepreneurs of Uzbekistan--Marat ZAHIDOV, chairman; Ozod Dekkon (Free Farmers) Party--Nigara KHIDOYATOVA, general secretary; Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan--Abdumannob PULATOV, chairman; Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan--Mikhail ARDZINOV, chairman; Ezgulik--Vasilya INOYATOVA, chairwoman.
Suffrage: Universal at age 18, unless imprisoned or certified as insane.
Defense: Military manpower--males age 15-49 fit for military service: 5,635,099 (2003 est.); universal 18-month military service for men.

Economy
(Note: Due to the unreliable nature of government statistics, it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of economic growth in Uzbekistan.)
GDP: Real GDP growth in 2004 was estimated at 4.4%.
Inflation: Approximately 50% in 2002, with a 150% average increase in prices of imported goods and a slight depreciation in domestically priced goods. In 2003, inflation was roughly 21.9%. The U.S. Embassy believes real wages were stagnant during 2003. In 2004, inflation of consumer prices dropped to 8%.
Per capita GDP: U.S. Government analysts believe that per capita GDP was about $350 per capita in 2001, $310 in 2002, and $350 in 2003. In 2004, GDP rose to $1,800 (purchasing power parity).
Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, gold, coal, uranium, silver, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, molybdenum. Natural gas production for 2003 was 58.1 billion cubic meters (bcm); 53 bcm was consumed in Uzbekistan and 5.9 bcm was exported. Oil production in 2003 was 145,320 barrels/day and consumption was 151,720 barrels/day.
Agriculture: Products--Cotton, fourth-largest producer worldwide; vegetables, fruits, grain, livestock.
Industry: Types--textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas. The industrial production growth rate was estimated at 6.2% in 2003; electricity production was 48.6 billion kilowatt hours.
Budget: (2004 est.): Revenues--$2.46 billion; expenditures--$2.48 billion.
Trade: Total exports--(2004 est. $3.7 billion): largest contribution from cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, food products, automobiles. Major export markets--Russia 22%, China 9.2%, Ukraine 7.4%, Tajikistan 6.1%, Bangladesh 4.7%, Turkey 4.6%, Japan 4.3%, Kazakhstan 4.1%. Total imports--(2004 est. $2.58 billion): machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs. Primary import partners--Russia 22.3%, United States 11.4%, South Korea 10.9%, Germany 9.5%, China 6.5%, Turkey 6.1%.
External debt (2004 est.): $4.35 billion.

PEOPLE
Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country. Its 25 million people, concentrated in the south and east of the country, are nearly half the region's total population. Uzbekistan had been one of the poorest republics of the Soviet Union; much of its population was engaged in cotton farming in small rural communities. The population continues to be heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood. Uzbek is the predominant ethnic group. Other ethnic groups include Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, and Tatar 1.5%. The nation is 88% Sunni Muslim and 9% Eastern Orthodox. Uzbek is the official state language; however, Russian is the de facto language for interethnic communication, including much day-to-day government and business use.

The educational system has achieved 97% literacy, and the mean amount of schooling for both men and women is 11 years. However, due to budget constraints and other transitional problems following the collapse of the Soviet Union, texts and other school supplies, teaching methods, curricula, and educational institutions are outdated, inappropriate, and poorly kept. Additionally, the proportion of school-aged persons enrolled has been dropping. Although the government is concerned about this, budgets remain tight. Similarly, in health care, life expectancy is long, but after the breakup of the Soviet Union, health care resources have declined, reducing health care quality, accessibility, and efficiency.

HISTORY
Located in the heart of Central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, Uzbekistan has a long and interesting heritage. The leading cities of the famous Silk Road--Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva--are located in Uzbekistan, and many well-known conquerors passed through the land. Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. and married Roxanna, daughter of a local chieftain. Conquered by Muslim Arabs in the eight century A.D., the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire in the 9th century. Genghis Khan and his Mongols overran its territory in 1220. In the 1300s, Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Uzbekistan's most noted tourist sites date from the Timurid dynasty. Later, separate Muslim city-states emerged with strong ties to Persia. In 1865, Russia occupied Tashkent and by the end of the 19th century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia. In 1876, the Russians dissolved the Khanate of Kokand, while allowing the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara to remain as direct protectorates. Russia placed the rest of Central Asia under colonial administration, and invested in the development of Central Asia's infrastructure, promoting cotton growing and encouraging settlement by Russian colonists.

In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded from the territories including the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Fergana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand. During the Soviet era, Moscow used Uzbekistan for its tremendous cotton growing and natural resource potential. The extensive and inefficient irrigation used to support the former has been the main cause of shrinkage of the Aral Sea to less than a third of its original volume, making this one of the world's worst environmental disasters. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991. Islam Karimov, former First Secretary of the Communist Party, was elected President in December 1991 with 88% of the vote; however, the election was not viewed as free or fair by foreign observers.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Constitutionally, the Government of Uzbekistan provides for separation of powers, freedom of speech, and representative government. In reality, the executive holds almost all power. The judiciary lacks independence and the legislature, which meets only a few days each year, has little power to shape laws. The president selects and replaces provincial governors. Under terms of a December 1995 referendum, Karimov's first term was extended. Another national referendum was held January 27, 2002 to yet again extend Karimov's term. The referendum passed and Karimov's term was extended by act of the parliament to December 2007. Most international observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. The 2002 referendum also included a plan to create a bicameral parliament. Elections for the new bicameral parliament took place on December 26, 2004, but no truly independent opposition candidates or parties were able to take part. The OSCE limited observation mission concluded that the elections fell significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Several political parties have been formed with government approval but have yet to show interest in advocating alternatives to government policy. Similarly, although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control or rarely broach political topics. Independent political parties were allowed to organize, recruit members, and hold conventions and press conferences, but have been denied registration under restrictive registration procedures. Terrorist bombings were carried out March 28-April 1, 2004 in Tashkent and Bukhara. It is not clear yet who committed the attacks, but Karimov assigned blame to Islamic extremists. In May 2005, violence erupted in the eastern city of Andijan. Mass demonstrations against the jailing of local men on charges of "Islamic extremism" escalated and Uzbek troops responded to the protestors with gunfire. The civilian death toll is believed to be in the hundreds, though authorities dubiously confirmed only 169 casualties, President Karimov identified the protestors as Islamic militants and fundamentalists who provoked the government's violent response. Karimov's opponents believed the conflict was a product of the President's ongoing policy to suppress all forms of dissent in Uzbekistan.

Human Rights
Uzbekistan is not a democracy and does not have a free press. Several prominent opponents of the government have fled, and others have been arrested. The government severely represses those it suspects of Islamic extremism, particularly those it suspects of membership in the banned Party of Islamic Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir). Some 5,300 to 5,800 suspected extremists are incarcerated. This represents a decline from previous years, as hundreds are amnestied and fewer arrested. Prison conditions remain very poor, particularly for those convicted of extremist activities, and a number of such prisoners are believed to have died over the past several years from prison disease and abuse. The police force and the intelligence service use torture as a routine investigation technique. No independent political parties have been registered, although they were for the first time able to conduct grass-roots activities and to convene organizing congresses. Following the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Government of Uzbekistan drafted an Action Plan to implement the Special Rapporteur' s recommendations. The government has begun to enact a number of its provisions, but its violent actions in May 2005 in Andijan have been widely condemned by other nations and human rights groups, along with its refusal to conduct a formal investigation or to allow an international inquiry of the turbulent events.

Principal Government Officials
President and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers--Islam Karimov
Prime Minister--Shavkat Mirziyaev

Deputy Prime Ministers
Economics and Trade/Consumer Market Complex--Rustam Azimov
Communications/Informatization--Abdulla Aripov
Agriculture/Water Management--Sayfiddin Ismailov
Foreign Economic Relations and Foreign Minister--Elyor Ganiev
Social Issues--Rustam Kosimov
Transportation and Construction--Abdukahhor Toxtayev
Women's Issues--Svetlana Imanova

Key Ministers
Defense--Kodir Ghulomov
Internal Affairs--Zokirjon Almatov
Justice--Buritosh Mustafaev
Public Education--Risboy Jorayev
Emergency Situations--Bakhtiyor Subanov
Finance--Saidakhmad Rakhimov
Culture--Alisher Azizkhodjaev
Health--Feruz Nazirov
Higher and Specialized Secondary Education--Turobjon Juraev
Labor and Social Protection--Okiljon Obidov

Other Key Officials
Chairman, National Bank-Foreign Economics--Zainutdin Mirkhojaev
Chairman, State Bank--Fayzulla Mullajanov
Chairman, State Committee on Statistics--Gofurjon Kudratov
Chairman, State Property--Mahmudjon Askarov
Chairman, State Committee for Customs--Bakhodir Matlyubov
Chairman, State Committee for Taxation--Botir Parpiev
Chairman, State Committee for Geology and Mineral--Nurmahammad Akhmedov
Chairman, National Security Service--Rustam Inoyatov
Chairman, committee on Protection of State Border--Gafurjon Tishaev
Secretary, National Security Council--Gairat Oblayarov
Ambassador to the United States--Abdulaziz Kamilov
Designate Ambassador to the United Nations--Alisher Vohidov

The Republic of Uzbekistan maintains an embassy at 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel.: (202) 887-5300; fax (202) 293-6804. Its consulate and mission to the UN in New York are located at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 326/327a, New York, NY 10017. Consulate tel.: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 486-7998.

ECONOMY
The economy is based primarily on agriculture and agricultural processing; Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. It also is a major producer of gold with the largest open-pit gold mine in the world and has substantial deposits of copper, strategic minerals, gas, and oil. Since independence, the government has stated that it is committed to a gradual transition to a free market economy but has been extremely cautious in moving to a market-based economy.

Although it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of economic growth in Uzbekistan--because of the unreliable nature of government statistics, which often serve political rather than economic ends--economic growth is far below potential due to:

  • the country's poor investment climate;
  • failure to attract foreign investment;
  • an extremely restrictive trade regime, implemented in order to meet a strategy of limiting imports of consumer goods;
  • failure to reform the agricultural sector of the economy, potentially the engine of economic growth for this largely rural economy; and
  • the price system in Uzbekistan, which is not functioning properly due to government intervention in markets.

The government accepted obligations under Article VIII of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Articles of Agreement on October 15, 2003, establishing full current account convertibility. The government's restrictive trade regime has crippled the economy and the government urgently needs to rescind its draconian trade measures. Substantial structural reform is needed, particularly in the area of improving the investment climate for foreign investors and in freeing the agricultural sector from smothering state control. Continuing restrictions on currency convertibility and other government measures to control economic activity, including the implementation of severe import restrictions and partial closure of Uzbekistan's borders with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, have constrained economic growth and led international lending organizations to suspend or scale back credits. The closure of the borders with neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in 2002 almost paralyzed Uzbekistan's consumer market, although some goods are still being smuggled into the country.

The government has made progress in reducing inflation and the budget deficit, but government statistics understate both, while overstating economic growth. There are no reliable statistics on unemployment, which is believed to be high and growing.

GDP and Employment
The government claims that the GDP rose 4.1% in 2003; however, the U.S Government does not think it was greater than 0.3%. Unemployment and underemployment are very high, but reliable figures are difficult to obtain, as no recent credible surveying has been done. Underemployment in the agricultural sector is particularly high--which is important given the fact that 60% of the population is rural-based. Many observers believe that employment growth and real wage growth have been stagnant, given virtually no growth in output.

Labor
Literacy in Uzbekistan is almost universal, and workers are generally well-educated and well-trained. However, worsening corruption in the country's education system in the past few years has begun to erode Uzbekistan's advantage in terms of its human capital, as grades and degrees are routinely purchased. Most local technical and managerial training does not meet international business standards, but foreign companies engaged in production report that locally hired workers learn quickly and work effectively. Foreign firms generally find that younger workers, untainted by the Soviet system, work well at all levels. The government emphasizes foreign education and each year sends about 50 students to the United States, Europe, and Japan for university degrees, after which they have a commitment to work for the government for 5 years. Reportedly, about 60% of the students who study abroad find employment with foreign companies on their return, despite their 5-year commitment to work in the government. Some American companies offer special training programs in the United States to their local employees. In addition, Uzbekistan subsidizes studies for students at Westminster University--the only Western-style institution in Uzbekistan. In 2003, Westminster admitted about 360 students and the government funded about half of the students' education. Education at Westminster costs $4,800 per academic year.

With the closure or downsizing of many foreign firms, it is relatively easy to find qualified, well-trained employees, and salaries are very low by Western standards. The government has implemented salary caps in an attempt to prevent firms from circumventing restrictions on the withdrawal of cash from banks. Some firms had tried in the past to evade these limits on withdrawals by inflating salaries of employees, allowing firms to withdraw more money. These salary caps prevent many foreign firms from paying their workers as much as they would like. Labor market regulations in Uzbekistan are similar to those of the Soviet Union, with all rights guaranteed but some rights unobserved. Unemployment is a growing problem and the number of people looking for jobs in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Southeast Asia is increasing each year. According to official Ministry of Labor estimates, around 100,000 citizens of Uzbekistan work abroad. However, business analysts estimate that the number of Uzbek citizens working abroad is far higher. Estimates range from lows of 3 million to highs of 5 million Uzbek citizens of working age living outside Uzbekistan.

Prices and Monetary and Fiscal Policy
Inflation was approximately 21.9% in 2003. In order to combat inflation, the government has exercised strict currency controls and severe shortages of cash exist in the country. From 1996 until the spring of 2003, the official and so-called "commercial" exchange rates were highly overvalued. Many businesses and individuals were unable to buy dollars legally at these rates, so a widespread black market developed to meet hard currency demand. However, by mid-2003, the gap between the black market, official, and commercial rates had been reduced to approximately 8%. In 2004, the gap between the two rates was negligible. Although the unification of the exchange rates was a positive development, government restrictions in 2004 on the amount of local currency and hard currency that could be carried across the Uzbek border in either direction lessened the effect of currency convertibility on the Uzbek economy. Liberalization of the trade regime, however, is a prerequisite for Uzbekistan to proceed to an IMF-financed program.

Outstanding external debt reached $4.6 billion as of the end of 2003. Tax collection rates remained high, due to the use of the banking system by the government as a collection agency. Technical assistance from the World Bank, Office of Technical Assistance at the Treasury Department, and from the UN Development Program (UNDP) is being provided in reforming the Central Bank and Ministry of Finance into institutions that conduct market-oriented fiscal and monetary policy.

Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agriculture and the agro-industrial sector contribute more than 40% to Uzbekistan's GDP. Cotton is Uzbekistan's dominant crop, accounting for roughly 45% of the country's exports. Gold is second at 22%. Uzbekistan also produces significant amounts of silk, fruit, and vegetables. Virtually all agriculture involves heavy irrigation. Farmers and agricultural workers have very low incomes because the government uses the difference between the world prices of cotton and wheat and what it pays the farmers to subsidize highly inefficient capital-intensive industrial concerns, such as factories producing automobiles, airplanes, and tractors.

Consequently, agricultural productivity is low, with many farmers focusing on producing fruits and vegetables--for which supply and demand determine the price--on small plots of land, as well as smuggling cotton and wheat across the border with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in order to obtain higher prices.

Minerals and mining also are important to Uzbekistan's economy. Gold is Uzbekistan's second most important foreign exchange earner at 22%. Uzbekistan is the world's seventh-largest producer, mining about 80 tons per annum, and holds the fourth-largest reserves in the world. Uzbekistan has an abundance of natural gas, used both for domestic consumption and export; oil almost sufficient for domestic needs; and significant reserves of copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and uranium. Inefficiency in energy use is extremely high, given the failure to use realistic price signals to cause consumers to conserve energy.

Trade and Investment
Uzbekistan has adopted a policy of import substitution. The multiple exchange rate system and the highly over-regulated trade regime have led to both import and export declines since 1996, although imports have declined more than exports, as the government squeezed imports to maintain hard currency reserves. Draconian tariffs and border closures imposed in the summer and fall of 2002 led to massive decreases in imports of both consumer products and capital equipment. Uzbekistan's traditional "trade" partners are New Independent States (NIS) countries, notably Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and the other Central Asian countries. Non-NIS partners have been increasing in importance in recent years, with the U.S., Korea, Germany, Japan, and Turkey being the most active.

Uzbekistan is a member of the IMF, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It has observer status at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has publicly stated its intention to accede to the WTO. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and is a signatory to the Convention on Settlement of Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States, the Paris Convention on Industrial Property, the Madrid Agreement on Trademarks Protection, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In 2003, Uzbekistan was again placed on the special "301" Watch List for lack of intellectual copyright protection.

Uzbekistan's previous lack of currency convertibility was one of the reasons that foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows dwindled to a trickle. In fact, Uzbekistan has the lowest level of FDI per capita in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Since Uzbekistan's independence, U.S. firms have invested roughly $500 million in Uzbekistan. Large U.S. investors include Newmont, reprocessing tailings from the Muruntau gold mine; Case Corporation, manufacturing and servicing cotton harvesters and tractors; Coca Cola, with bottling plants in Tashkent, Namangan and Samarkand; Texaco, producing lubricants for sale in the Uzbek market; and Baker Hughes, in oil and gas development. No large new investments have taken place from the U.S. in the last 5 years.

DEFENSE
Uzbekistan possesses the largest and most competent military forces in the Central Asian region, having around 65,000 people in uniform. Its structure is inherited from the Soviet armed forces, although it is moving rapidly toward a fully restructured organization, which will eventually be built around light and Special Forces. The Uzbek Armed Forces' equipment is not modern, and training, while improving, is neither uniform nor adequate yet for its new mission of territorial security. The government has accepted the arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union, acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (as a non-nuclear state), and has supported an active program by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in western Uzbekistan (Nukus and Vozrozhdeniye Island). The Government of Uzbekistan spends about 3.7% of GDP on the military but has received a growing infusion of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and other security assistance funds since 1998. Uzbekistan approved U.S. Central Command's request for access to a vital military air base in southern Uzbekistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Uzbekistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. However, it is opposed to reintegration and withdrew from the CIS collective security arrangement in 1999. Since that time, Uzbekistan has participated in the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan and in UN-organized groups to help resolve the Tajik and Afghan conflicts, both of which it sees as posing threats to its own stability. Uzbekistan is an active supporter of U.S. efforts against worldwide terrorism and joined the coalitions that have dealt with both Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a member of the United Nations, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Partnership for Peace, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It belongs to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Economic Cooperation Organization--comprised of the five Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In 1999, Uzbekistan joined the GUAM alliance (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova), which was formed in 1997 (making it GUUAM). Uzbekistan is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and hosts the SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent. Uzbekistan also joined the new Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) in 2002. The CACO consists of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. It is a founding member of and remains involved in the Central Asian Union, formed with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, joined in March 1998 by Tajikistan.

U.S.-UZBEK RELATIONS
The U.S. recognized the independence of Uzbekistan on December 25, 1991, and opened an Embassy in Tashkent in March 1992. U.S.-Uzbek relations have flourished in recent years but have become strained over the Uzbek's actions in Andijan in 2005. Relations were boosted by the March 2002 meeting between President Bush and President Karimov in Washington, DC, where the two countries signed the Declaration of Strategic Partnership. High-level visits to Uzbekistan have increased since September 11, 2001, including that of the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and numerous congressional delegations. The U.S. believes that the development of an independent, stable, prosperous, and democratic Central Asia is vital for the inhabitants of Central Asia and the entire world. As the most populous country in Central Asia and the geographic and strategic center of Central Asia, Uzbekistan plays a pivotal role in the region. The United States accordingly has developed a broad relationship covering political, human rights, military, nonproliferation, economic, trade, assistance, and related issues.

The U.S. has consulted closely with Uzbekistan on regional security problems, and Uzbekistan has been a close ally of the United States at the United Nations. Uzbekistan has been a strong partner of the United States on foreign policy and security issues ranging from Iraq to Cuba, and nuclear proliferation to narcotics trafficking. It has sought active participation in Western security initiatives under the Partnership for Peace, OSCE, and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Uzbekistan views its American ties as balancing regional influences, helping Uzbekistan assert its own regional role, and encouraging foreign investment. Uzbekistan is a strong supporter of U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq and of the global war against terror.

The tumultuous events in Andijan in 2005 and the subsequent U.S. condemnation of President Karimov's actions render the future relationship between the nations uncertain. In June 2005, Karimov refused U.S. demands for a formal investigation of the Andijan massacre, exacerbating the divide between the two nations. To maintain strong relations, the United States urges greater reform in Uzbekistan to promote long-term stability and prosperity. Registration of independent political parties and human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) would be an important step. The government registered the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan in March 2002. One year later, in March 2003, the government registered a second human rights organization, Ezgulik. Enforcement of constitutional safeguards ensuring personal, religious, and press freedom and civil liberties also is needed.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Trade and investment. Trade relations are regulated by a bilateral trade agreement, which entered into force January 14, 1994. It provides for extension of most-favored-nation trade status between the two countries. The U.S. additionally granted Uzbekistan exemption from many U.S. import tariffs under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP status) on August 17, 1994. A Bilateral Investment Treaty was signed December 16, 1994; it has been ratified by Uzbekistan and received advice and consent of the U.S. Senate in October 2000. However, the Bilateral Investment Treaty will be unlikely to enter into force until Uzbekistan embarks on economic reform. The government is taking some modest steps to reduce the red tape that constrains the nascent private sector.

Assistance. The United States has provided significant humanitarian and technical assistance to Uzbekistan. The U.S. has provided technical support to Uzbekistan's efforts to restructure its economy and to improve its environment and health care system, provided support to nascent NGOs, and provided equipment to improve water availability and quality in the Aral Sea region. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Embassy's Public Affairs Section, the U.S. Government supports educational and professional exchanges and other programs that offer Uzbeks the opportunity to study in the United States and to establish professional contacts with their American counterparts. In FY 2002 and 2003, the United States provided roughly $219.8 and $87.4 million, respectively, in humanitarian aid, technical assistance, military-to-military funding, and microcredit support in Uzbekistan. These programs were designed to promote market reform and to establish a foundation for an open, prosperous, democratic society.

USAID provides both technical and humanitarian assistance. Technical assistance to Uzbekistan promotes sound fiscal and management policies, improved private business operations, a competitive private sector, citizens' participation in political and economic decision making, improved sustainability of social benefits and services, private investment in the energy sector, reduced environmental risks to public health, and other multi-sector reform programs. Programs include business training, subsidies for business development, environmental education, and environmental preservation programs. The latter includes the Aral Sea/Regional Water Cooperation program involving the Interstate Council for the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and the Republic of Uzbekistan, waste minimization demonstration programs, and the National Environmental Action Plan. The USAID/CAR/Uzbekistan water program is aimed at improving water management on both national and local levels, concentrating efforts on sustainable development of the water users' associations (WUAs). The USAID/CAR/ Uzbekistan health program focuses on 4 chief needs: primary health care reform, infectious disease control, drug demand reduction, and maternal and child health/reproductive health (MCH/RH). The USAID Participation and Education Knowledge Strengthening Program (PEAKS) began in January 2003, focusing on 5 major aspects of the education system: in-service teacher training, school-based curriculum development, parent and community involvement in the decision making, management, and technical capacity at all levels of the education system; and rehabilitation of school infrastructure. In addition to PEAKS pilot schools, more than 100 schools across Uzbekistan received over 1,000 computers from USAID, with more than half of these schools obtaining Internet connections.

Peace Corps staff arrived in Uzbekistan in August 1992, and a bilateral agreement to establish Peace Corps in Uzbekistan was signed November 4, 1992. The first volunteers arrived in December 1992. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps fund feasibility studies by U.S. firms and provides other planning services related to major projects in developing countries including Uzbekistan. Department of State-managed exchange programs, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and the Department of Commerce's Special American Business Internship Training Program (SABIT) contribute to expansion of technical know-how and support bilateral relations. The U.S. also provides export finance/guarantees and political risk insurance for U.S. exporters and investors through the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

[Fact sheet on FY 2004 U.S. Assistance to Uzbekistan.]

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Jon R. Purnell
Secretary--Penny O'Brien
Deputy Chief of Mission--David E. Appleton
Political/Economic Officer--Sylvia Curran
SCO/FCS--n/a
Management Officer--Brent Bohne
Public Affairs Officer--Michael Reinert
Consul--vacant
DAO--LTC Todd Brown
USAID--Joanne Hale
Peace Corps--Edward Willett

The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent is at 82 Chilanzarskaya; tel. [998] (71) 120-5450; fax: [998] (71) 120-6335; duty officer (cellular): [998] (71) 180-4060. The Foreign Commercial Service, Public Affairs, and U.S. Agency for International Development are at the Sharq Building, 41 Buyuk Turon St. FCS tel.: [998] (71) 120-6705 or 6706, 133-2880, 1870 or 0597; fax: 120-6692. PA: [998] (71) 133-7096, 3581, or 5974; fax: 120-6224; duty officer (cellular): 180-4087. USAID tel.: [998] (71) 133-1852, 1797, or 7656; fax: 120-6309. Peace Corps is at 2 Sapernaya St. 63/65; tel.: [998] (71) 54-92-96, 54-94-84, or 54-96-60; fax: 54-98-50; duty officer (cellular): [998] (71) 180-4093.

Until March 1, 1999, a dual country/area code system was in effect, allowing use of the former country/area codes. For Tashkent, this was [7] (3712) for six-digit numbers and [7] (371) for seven-digit numbers.

[This is a mobile copy of Uzbekistan (07/05)]