Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny arrested on arrival as he returns home
LONG READ: The oligarch problem
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Durov rejects Western funds’ offer to buy 5%-10% of Telegram with $30bn valuation
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OUTLOOK 2021 Lithuania
EBRD says loan to Estonia’s controversial Porto Franco project was never disbursed
Estonian premier quits after Tallinn development scandal
Czech Pirates and Mayors approve final coalition agreement for 2021 elections
OUTLOOK 2021 Czechia
BRICKS & MORTAR: Rosier future beckons for CEE retailers after year of change and disruption
OUTLOOK 2021 Hungary
Hungarian government remains silent after Capitol riots
World Bank expects modest recovery for Europe and Central Asia in 2021
OUTLOOK 2021 Slovakia
FDI inflows to CEE down 58% in 1H20 but rebound expected
Slovakia to invest €1.2bn in digitisation
BALKAN BLOG: The controversial recipe for building up Albania
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OUTLOOK 2021 Albania
Turnover rose on Bosnia's two stock exchanges in 2020 while prices fell
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Kyiv accuses Bosnian President Dodik of lying about icon gifted to Russian foreign minister
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ING THINK: Growth in the Balkans: from zero to hero again?
OUTLOOK 2020 Bulgaria
Labour demand down 28% y/y in Croatia in 2020
Zagreb Stock Exchange's Crobex10 index at highest level since March 5
OUTLOOK 2021 Kosovo
Arrera Automobili aims to launch Albania’s first supercar
World Bank revises projection for Moldova’s 2020 GDP decline to 7.2%
Moldova’s PM resigns to prepare the ground for early elections
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OUTLOOK 2021 Montenegro
North Macedonia's manufacturing confidence indicator down by 8.5 pp y/y in December
OUTLOOK 2021 North Macedonia
Transparency International warns of high corruption risk in CEE defence sectors
OUTLOOK 2021 Romania
Romania’s central bank cuts monetary policy rate by 25bp to 1.25%
Romanian construction companies' activity slows in November after intense 2020
OUTLOOK 2021 Serbia
Slovenia’s opposition files no-confidence motion against Jansa cabinet
Slovenia’s government to release funds to news agency STA after EU pressure
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OUTLOOK 2021 Armenia
Armenia’s PM cautions conflict with Azerbaijan “still not settled” after trilateral meeting with Putin
COMMENT: Record high debt levels will slow post-coronavirus recovery, threaten some countries' financial stability, says IIF
OUTLOOK 2021 Georgia
Georgia’s political kingpin Bidzina Ivanishvili quits politics
Modern-day “Robin Hood” inspires Georgians drowning in debt
Iran’s navy conducts missile drill while analyst argues Trump even capable of nuclear strike in final days
TEHRAN BLOG: Who’s more credible? Johnson backing Trump’s Nobel chances or Iran applauding arrest warrant for US president?
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OUTLOOK 2021 Kyrgyzstan
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OUTLOOK 2021 Tajikistan
China business briefing: Not happy with Kyrgyzstan
OUTLOOK 2021 Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan: How the Grinch stole New Year
Turkmenistan: The dammed united
COMMENT: Uzbekistan is being transformed, but where are the democratic reforms?
OUTLOOK 2021 Uzbekistan
Download the pdf version
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is looking to take his country into the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Russian Senate speaker Valentina Matviyenko said on October 2.
"The Uzbek president has made a decision and is currently working on Uzbekistan joining the EEU," Matviyenko said during a meeting with the head of the Uzbek lower chamber of parliament, Nuriddinjon Ismailov.
Mirziyoyev’s ongoing reform drive to achieve a modern market economy includes the gradual removal of Uzbekistan’s protectionist trade policies. His administration has also expressed an interest in joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The official negotiation process for Uzbekistan’s WTO accession began in July. Deputy director general of the WTO, Alan Wolfe, said in February that Uzbekistan may join the WTO within two years.
Uzbekistan has never previously expressed any explicit interest in joining the EEU.
"Local proponents of joining the EEU and the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organisation, an intergovernmental military alliance of Russia and other post-Soviet states] claim that Uzbekistan’s membership in these organizations would institutionalize the current favorable trade regime as well as close economic and military cooperation with Russia, thus stabilizing bilateral relations," Jamestown Foundation wrote in 2017.
"Moreover, it would help the 2 million–3 million Uzbekistani migrant workers in Russia who continue to face hardships there, despite various recently signed bilateral agreements meant to ease their access to the Russian labor market,” the foundation added.
It also noted: “The Uzbekistani guest workers’ difficult situation would probably be further eased thanks to their native country’s EEU membership. Incoming migrant laborers from EEU member states are exempted from Russian-language and Russian-history exams, enjoy access to free medical services, have their university degrees recognized and, most importantly, are not required to purchase costly work permits."
Under Mirziyoyev’s predecessor Islam Karimov, who died while still in office in late 2016, international agreements such as the EEU were seen as political alliances undermining Uzbekistan’s political neutrality and, potentially, its sovereignty.
Many individuals and groups in Central Asian nations view the EEU primarily as Russia’s political tool rather than simply as an economic alliance because the trade bloc does not necessarily offer economic benefits to the member countries. For example, Kyrgyzstan’s car re-export market and the Dordoi bazaar were both seemingly strangled by the new regulations that came with EEU membership, with the former fading out of existence. Prior to joining the EEU, Kyrgyzstan exported used cars from abroad and sold them to neighbouring nations—mainly Kazakhstan.
In Uzbekistan’s case, joining the EEU may complicate some of its focus on attracting Western investors as it would become increasingly enmeshed in post-Soviet links to Russia.
The EEU commenced in 2015 on the basis of a customs union created in 2010. The original members are Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Armenia became a member of the free-trade bloc in January 2015, while Kyrgyzstan joined in August 2015. The trade bloc is set to launch a temporary preferential trade agreement with Iran in late October.
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