Economy of Uzbekistan
Since gaining independence, the Government of Uzbekistan has stated that it is committed to a gradual transition to a market-based economy. The progress with economic policy reforms has been a cautious one, but cumulatively Uzbekistan has shown respectable achievements. The government is yet to eliminate the gap between the black market and official exchange rates by successfully introducing convertibility of the national currency. Its restrictive trade regime and generally interventionist policies continue to have a negative effect on the economy. Substantial structural reform is needed, particularly in these areas: improving the investment climate for foreign investors, strengthening the banking system, and freeing the agricultural sector from state control. Remaining restrictions on currency conversion capacity and other government measures to control economic activity, including the implementation of severe import restrictions and sporadic closures of Uzbekistan's borders with neighbouring Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan have led international lending organizations to suspend or scale back credits.
Working closely with the IMF, the government has made considerable progress in reducing inflation and the budget deficit. The national currency was made convertible in 2003 as part of the IMF-engineered stabilization program, although some administrative restrictions remain. The agriculture and manufacturing industries contribute equally to the economy, each accounting for about one-quarter of the GDP. Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton, although the importance of this commodity has declined significantly since the country achieved independence. Uzbekistan is also a big producer of gold, with the largest open-pit gold mine in the world. The country has substantial deposits of copper, strategic minerals, gas, and oil. Agriculture
At the end of 2013, the government announced through the Central Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan that it predicted agriculture as playing a major component of the country's economic development in the future. Agriculture in Uzbekistan employs 28% of labour force and contributes 24% of GDP (2006 data). Another 8% of GDP is from processing of domestic agricultural output. Cotton, once Uzbekistan's star cash earner, has lost much its luster since independence as wheat began to gain prominence from considerations of food security for the rapidly growing population. Uzbekistan is the largest producer of jute in West Asia and it also produces significant quantities of silk (Uzbek ikat), fruit, and vegetables, with food products contributing nearly 8% of total exports in 2006. Natural resources and energy
Minerals and mining also are important to Uzbekistan's economy. Gold, alongside cotton, is a major foreign exchange earner, unofficially estimated at around 20% of total exports. Uzbekistan is the world's seventh-largest gold producer, mining about 80 tons per year, and holds the fourth-largest reserves in the world. Uzbekistan has an abundance of natural gas, used both for domestic consumption and export; oil used for domestic consumption; and significant reserves of copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and uranium. Inefficiency in energy use is generally high, because the low controlled prices do not stimulate consumers to conserve energy. Uzbekistan is a partner country of the EUINOGATE energy programme, which has four key topics: enhancing energy security, convergence of member state energy markets on the basis of EU internal energy market principles, supporting sustainable energy development, and attracting investment for energy projects of common and regional interest.
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