Dubai's DP World, one of the largest port operators globally, signed a framework agreement with Uzbekistan to expand its presence in the Central Asian country in a move that will boost the flow of global trade and help to develop digital infrastructure.
The deal covers areas of economic co-operation, including the launch of new consumer e-commerce and FinTech platforms in Uzbekistan, as well as measures to streamline customs operations and establish a new inland logistics network that will support the expansion of the Navoi Free Economic Zone and the cargo terminal at Navoi International Airport.
The agreement is also expected to expand Uzbekistan’s trade network and position DP World as a strategic partner in boosting international trade.
The agreement was signed by DP World chairman Sultan bin Sulayem and Shukhrat Vafaev, Uzbekistan's Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade, in the presence of Sardor Umurzakov, Uzbekistan's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade.
“DP World is committed to being a strategic partner for Uzbekistan enabling trade. Our agreements signed today will help design and shape a world-class trading ecosystem in the country. The Uzbekistan economy continues to grow at a strong pace, making it an attractive destination for long-term investments," Mr Bin Sulayem said on Tuesday.
The revival and further development of trade, which was battered by Covid-19, is considered to be a key pillar for the global economy in the post-coronavirus era.
Global trade hit a record high in the third quarter of 2021 and is expected to rise 23 per cent to $28 trillion for the full year, according to a report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development in November.
DP World in October reported an 8.1 per cent increase in third-quarter gross container shipping volumes, beating the industry average of 6.4 per cent, with all the regions it operates in reporting growth.
The port operator has also forged several partnerships in the final quarter of 2021.
On Monday, the port operator signed a final agreement with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to develop a deep sea port at Banana, along the country’s 37-kilometre coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. This will be the DRC's first deepwater port.
Last month, it signed an agreement worth $7.5 billion with the Indonesia Investment Authority, the South-East Asian country's wealth fund, to develop ports over a period of up to 30 years.
In October, DP World teamed up with UK-based development finance institution and impact investor CDC Group to create a $1.7bn investment platform for Africa, which will invest in origin and destination ports, inland container depots, economic zones and other logistics across the continent to boost trade.
As part of the agreement with Uzbekistan, DP World will establish a road-and-rail-linked logistics network across all major distribution and consumption centres in and around the capital Tashkent.
It will also develop a 100-hectare road-and-rail-linked greenfield site in Uzbekistan’s recently established Special Economic Zones.
The agreement will result in DP World becoming a strategic partner for the growing Navoi FEZ and the connectivity of the Navoi air cargo terminal in south-west Uzbekistan, linking it to major international centres.
“Uzbekistan is keen to co-operate with DP World on facilitating the development of logistics sector of the country through implementation of [a] portfolio of projects in key regions of the country," Mr Umurzakov said.
"The combination of DP World’s experience and capacity with Uzbekistan’s unique geographical location and favourable business environment will boost regional trade and contribute to further improvement of regional connectivity."
The World Bank predicts the economy of Uzbekistan – Central Asia’s largest consumer market and a leading exporter of cotton, textile, automotive and fruit and vegetable products – will grow 5.6 per cent in 2022.