The meeting took place in the run-up to the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council meeting and Digital Almaty Forum 2021.
Excerpts from the transcript:
Mikhail Mishustin: Esteemed Mr Aripov, I would like to give you a warm welcome. We communicate regularly and often speak on the telephone. I am happy to see you in person today.
We have quite an event today: Uzbekistan is taking part in the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council meeting for the first time as an observer in the Eurasian Economic Union. This is very important for us, and I would like to congratulate you on this.
Availing myself of this opportunity, I would like to send my warm greetings and best wishes to President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev. I would also like to convey to him best wishes on behalf of President of Russia Vladimir Putin.
We are preparing for the Uzbek President’s state visit to Russia; we are working on a package of documents for signing. We are also preparing an intensive programme. The second meeting of the Joint Commission at the level of Russian and Uzbek heads of government will be a major step in the preparations for this state visit. It lays emphasis on the scale and importance of our bilateral cooperation.
Unfortunately, our meetings have been postponed until March and April due to the health and epidemiological restrictions. However, Russian and Uzbek departments are working hard, preparing for them. I hope we will fix the specific dates soon.
The epidemiological situation is not easy but we are cooperating on it. Of course, the real way out of this predicament is linked to the start of mass vaccinations, using effective and safe vaccines. Russia is cooperating with Uzbekistan in this respect. We hope to find a partner for producing the vaccines. We have talked about this.
We are happy that the Russian Federation is Uzbekistan’s leading trade partner. Despite the coronavirus, in 11 months of 2020 our trade grew by 17 percent over the same period in 2019, to about $5.3 billion. Our presidents have set an objective to increase it to $10 billion. I know we will do all we can to increase our trade.
Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov is in charge of these issues at the Intergovernmental Commission. Our intergovernmental programme of bilateral economic cooperation through to 2024 is making steady progress.
I would also like to thank you for your active cooperation in the CIS and the SCO. Owing to Uzbekistan’s successful chairmanship of the CIS, last year we adopted a Strategy for CIS Economic Development until 2030. I would be happy to discuss all the urgent issues with you, Mr Aripov.
Abdulla Aripov: Mr Mishustin, I’m also happy to see you. Over the past year, we have talked often by telephone and have resolved many issues on the telephone or via video conference. Despite the pandemic, it is gratifying to know that we have kept the high dynamics of our interaction, and trade and economic cooperation, intact. I support what you said about our positive dynamics, and I’m very happy that you are of the same opinion. Our leaders set an objective to increase trade to $10 billion in the near future. For our part, we are very optimistic about this and, in spite of everything, we will make every effort to achieve this purportedly high goal.
Russia is our key strategic ally, and we appreciate our relations. The positive dynamics and good interaction between our countries are, of course, based on trust and mutual understanding between our presidents.
Of course, we are also doing our best to prepare for the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr Mirziyoyev’s state visit to Moscow. I’m aware that, on your instructions, many Russian Government departments are working hard to prepare a large package of documents for signing. In addition to ministries and other departments, the regions are involved in this work as well. We are doing our best to improve ties between our countries’ regions.
I think, in addition to trade, investment and industrial cooperation is making strides as well. Promoting cultural ties is also a priority. We highly appreciate your support for the Klass (Class) joint programme designed to improve the quality of teaching Russian in Uzbekistan. More than 100 Russian-language teachers and educators have come to Uzbekistan and have started working in our regions. We are grateful to the Russian government for this, because it is important for us, and we will do whatever it takes to make it work and get everyone involved in this effort.
Mr Mishustin, we highly appreciate your focus on promoting Uzbek-Russian relations. I would especially like to note that we have initiated tax reform in Uzbekistan on your initiative and with your support. Thanks to Russia’s technical assistance and a corresponding grant, we are about to complete the first phase of this major institutional effort. Just before this meeting, the heads of the tax services reviewed the first stage of this effort. The head of our tax service reported to me that they have good interaction with their Russian colleagues, and that they have already started working on the second stage. This work is bringing excellent results in harmonising the economy and solvency in the tax sphere in Uzbekistan, for which we are very grateful to you.
We are at the early stages of a new project, in which you, Mr Mishustin, are also personally involved. It is about labeling alcohol, tobacco products, medicines and electronics. We are working in this area as well.
Our sphere of interaction is fairly large, and I believe we will have a chance to discuss other matters as well. Thank you.