UK welcomes Uzbekistan’s reform plans — ambassador

TASHKENT (TCA) — The United Kingdom and Uzbekistan have been enhancing dialogue on security issues, expanding analytical exchange on Afghanistan and cooperation on a range of regional issues, Christopher Allan, UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, said at a recent press conference occasioned to the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Great Britain and Uzbekistan marked in February 2017, the Jahon information agency reported.

The year 2016, the British ambassador said, proved especially important in terms of political contacts. In April 2016, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Tobias Ellwood, visited Uzbekistan, while in December, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Sir Alan Duncan was in Uzbekistan. The British MP became the first high-ranking foreign dignitary to personally congratulate Shavkat Mirziyoyev on his inauguration as President of Uzbekistan, the UK Ambassador stressed.

The Ambassador said that the British Embassy will continue to facilitate the consolidation of cooperation in trade, economic and investment spheres, encourage direct contacts between companies from the two nations and overall interaction in commerce, including through the Uzbek-British Trade and Industry Council (UBTIC).

In 2016, bilateral trade reached $151.3 million, a 43% increase from 2015 figures. Uzbekistan’s exports to the UK included ferrous metals and cotton. The main items of imports from Great Britain to Uzbekistan were services, machinery and equipment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and consumer products.

Christopher Allan designated the education sector as one of priority areas in bilateral cooperation. The British Council celebrated the 20th anniversary of its activity in Uzbekistan in 2016. Over these years, magnificent partnership has been built with Uzbekistan’s ministries of public education as well as higher and secondary special education, the ambassador stated. According to him, the established interaction contributes to the successful implementation of extensive reforms in the given sphere. It also facilitates learning English, including the elaboration of a new generation of English textbooks, along with teacher training and access to the cutting-edge British resources.

The Ambassador underscored that the United Kingdom welcomes Uzbekistan’s sweeping plans in reforms, believes that the nation has a great future and, accordingly, seeks to cement the bilateral relationship.