“Today’s meeting has set a new phase in the pharmaceutical cooperation between India and Uzbekistan. Already, seven Uzbek companies have joint ventures with India and around 30% of drugs sold in Uzbekistan is imported from India. The President of Uzbekistan has announced six pharmaceutical Free Economic Zones (FEZs) through a decree and this heralds a new era in the history of Uzbekistan. So far, 18 new projects have been proposed with potential for 600 new drug manufacturing in these zones. Uzbekistan produces 3,500 drugs domestically and we aim to double this number in the coming years. Every year, the government approves 800 new drugs. Our goal is to make pharmaceutical a key driver of Uzbek economy,” said Mr. Alisher Temirov, Deputy Minister, Pharmaceutical Industry Development of Uzbekistan at an interactive meeting on ‘Doing Business with Uzbekistan’ with special focus on pharmaceutical sector. The interactive meeting was organized jointly by All India Association of Industries and WTC Mumbai
Pointing to the potential of pharmaceutical sector in Uzbekistan, Mr. Temirov remarked, “Uzbekistan has the leading pharmaceutical industry in Central Asia. The number of pharmaceutical companies in Uzbekistan has grown from three in 1991 to more than 207 today, of which 100 firms make drugs and another 100 manufacture medical devices. The size of the sector is USD 1.3 billion and we expect to grow this to USD 1.5 billion in the coming years. In the last three years, 50 investment projects have been approved and domestic production of drugs has grown three-fold since 2014. There are 750 medicinal plants grown in Uzbekistan.”
Mr. Temirov pointed out that his government aims to increase pharmaceutical and medical devices exports to USD 85 million by 2024 from USD 40 million now. Currently, 55% of the drugs sold in Uzbekistan is produced locally and the government aims to increase this to 60% in the near future.
Speaking about the government incentives for new investors in pharmaceutical zones, Mr. Temirov mentioned, “Investors can benefit from tax holiday upto 10 years, based on the value of investment. The government exempts land, property tax and customs duties on imported raw materials in the free economic zones (FEZs). A new investor can start business within 10 days of application. The government has introduced online submission facility for new drug registration. It takes maximum 155 days for registering new drug in Uzbekistan.”
Mr. Botir Khudoyberdeiv, Chief Specialist of the Investment Department, Republic of Uzbekistan shared information about the sectors where private investors have lined up investment projects and the estimated jobs that will be created from these investments. Specifically, he pointed out the scope for investment and exports in sectors such as oncology and dermatology in Uzbekistan.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Dr. Vijay Kalantri,President, All India Association of Industries Chairman, MVIRDC World Trade Center Mumbai and Hon. Consul General of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Mumbai said, “There is ample scope for promoting bilateral cooperation in pharmaceutical sector as India is the pharmacy hub in Asia and Uzbekistan government is keen to promote local manufacturing of drugs and medical devices. Indian pharmaceutical companies can set up manufacturing plant in Uzbekistan and export to the 110 million consumer market of Central Asia and neighbouring countries, with which it has trade agreements. Alternatively, Indian pharmaceutical firms can export finished drugs to Uzbekistan and then re-export to neighbouring countries after packaging.”
Speaking further about joint cooperation in pharmaceutical sector, Dr, Kalantri said, “India’s pharmaceutical exports to Uzbekistan more than doubled in FY 2020-21. In order to fight COVID pandemic, India supplied HCQ, Paracetamol and other essential drugs, while Uzbekistan supplied oxygen concentrators and other medical goods. Indian investors can also explore the possibility of setting up diagnostic laboratories and hospitals in Uzbekistan.”
Sharing his thoughts on other areas of partnership, Dr. Kalantri mentioned, “Textile, Oil & Gas and Mining are other potential sectors for bilateral cooperation. Both the countries have engaged in joint development of high quality cotton seeds. The newly elected government in Uzbekistan is progressive and wants to attract investment from India. Companies in both the countries can use the lines of credit extended by EXIM Bank of India for bilateral trade and investment. The current trade volume of USD 443 million below the true potential and I feel it has the potential to double in five years.”