Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Uzbekistan to set up special industrial zone for Hungarian investors

Uzbekistan will set up a special industrial zone near Tashkent with preferential regulations designed for Hungarian investors, Peter Szjjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, announced after a meeting of the Hungarian-Uzbek Mixed Inter-governmental Economic Cooperation Committee in Budapest on Thursday.

The special economic zone will allow cooperation between Hungary and Uzbekistan to further strengthen, Szijjarto told a joint press conference held with Laziz Kudratov, Uzbekistan’s minister of investment, industry and trade, after signing an agreement on the project.

In bilateral cooperation, Szijjarto noted preparations by Hungarian companies to enter the Uzbek market with projects in the pharmaceutical, agricultural and food industries, according to a foreign ministry statement. A capital fund to support their investments in central Asia will soon be set up, he said. In addition, it can also be a guarantee for them that OTP Bank, Hungary’s biggest commercial lender, has become “a flagship” investor in Uzbekistan’s bank sector with a 73 percent stake acquired in one of that country’s largest banks, the foreign minister added.

At the press conference, Szijjarto highlighted the importance of the two countries’ strategic partnership which offered Hungary enormous opportunities in the modernisation of various branches in Uzbekistan’s economy.

Nuclear cooperation is of paramount importance for the Hungarian government, Szijjarto said, insisting that only those countries were safe that could cover most of their domestic energy needs from their own resources. In terms of possibilities in bilateral cooperation, he identified prospects for MVM EGI with extensive references in dry-cooling systems to be a supplier for the nuclear plant Uzbekistan was planning to build at a site lacking sufficient water reserves. Szijjarto said that ten Uzbekistani nuclear experts would be trained each year at Hungarian universities.

New weekly direct flights planned to be launched between Tashkent and Budapest by the Uzbek airlines Qanot Sharq in late summer and by Hungarian low-cost airline WizzAir at the end of this year could further boost bilateral ties, he said.

He also said that central Asia was becoming increasingly important “midst new geopolitical and global economic realities”.

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