Ambassador Pamela L. Spratlen’s Remarks at U.S.-Uzbek Government-Business Roundtable

Thank you, Deputy Minister Tulyaganov.  It is a real pleasure for us to be here today, for this first roundtable that is dedicated principally to health and pharmaceuticals, but there are also some other representatives of U.S. companies here.  So, first of all, let me say thank you to you and to all of the representatives on the Uzbek side for your hospitality and for your welcome, not only to me and the members of my Embassy, but also to those representatives that we have present from U.S. companies, and also to representatives of associations, principally the American Chamber of Commerce, which is a partner in this endeavor.

I would like the representatives at the table introduce themselves, and as a part of that, I will ask Mr. John Fay just to make note of all of the U.S. companies that are part of this business roundtable and the two-day trade mission that preceded it.  By way of introduction, I am Pamela Spratlen, the U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan.

(…)

Thank you.  That is the introductions for our side and we turn the floor back over to you.

(…)

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Minister for those very warm opening remarks and for taking note of the fact that while we are here to talk about the future of business relations between companies that are associated with the United States and those that might someday work in Uzbekistan, who may not be present, that there already is a history of the presence of U.S. firms and you made note of General Motors as one example.  There are others, as you noted.  And, you also made reference to the high-tech sector and sort of summary of the reform programs of the Government of Uzbekistan, which, I am sure, will be of interest to the business members of our delegation.

For myself, I would just like once again to express appreciation for the holding of this roundtable and to you, as well as to Mr. Ganiev who was present when Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary Arun Kumar was here last year.  It was really through his initiative and that of Deputy Assistant Secretary Lally at the Department of Commerce that we came up with this idea of a roundtable, starting not to just have one, but perhaps a series.  It was the Government of Uzbekistan that suggested focusing by sector.  And so, that is why we are all here today and we thank you for that.

And I would also, once again, just like to thank our colleagues in Ankara at the U.S. Department for Commerce for joining us.  I would also like to thank our partners, the American Chamber of Commerce, but also the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.  I had the opportunity to meet members of that group who are also very solid U.S. companies, while I was in Washington, D.C. last week.

And as we put it out in our small meeting before we stepped in here, the importance of the economic relationship was underscored during our Annual Bilateral Consultations which were chaired on the Uzbek side by Foreign Minister Kamilov in January of this year.  So, I think we have had a series of events now and I think this is a very, very important step.

Let me just say a few words of welcome before we turn over to the main business of the meeting.  I want to say how grateful I am to all of the companies who are present in this delegation, both those who are present here in Uzbekistan already, and those who have travelled here, some for the very first time.

As you and I mentioned, and as Mr. Fay noted, there are some very, very solid companies here who are eager to learn more about opportunities here in Uzbekistan.  So, we are very, very grateful that all of them were able to come.  As a matter of policy, though, it is U.S. firms themselves that decide where to locate.  The U.S. Government does not get involved in decisions about where companies are going to be located.  We very much encourage companies, where it is in their interest, to find opportunities abroad, and President Obama has during his two terms in office highlighted the importance of business, of entrepreneurship, of innovation, of high technology as hallmarks of American business.

As Secretary of State Kerry has noted, trade doesn’t just support jobs and build prosperity – important goals in and of themselves.  It also spurs innovation.  And furthermore, he says, that trade can help knit America and our partners together so that we are better able to cooperate on other areas.  It also helps to create a community of common interests that will reinforce trust and it helps us to expand our cooperation in other areas.

The American companies that have traveled to Uzbekistan for the roundtable represent a wide array of American technology and ingenuity.  In all, around 30 representatives of 13 American companies made a special effort to visit today.  They come from a diverse array of sectors, including healthcare and pharmaceuticals, banking, finance, electronics, power generation, chemicals, aircraft manufacturing, trade, and consulting.

These are major, serious American companies and not only are they serious about doing business – they are also serious about making a difference.  They create products, solutions, and technologies that improve lives – and even save lives.

They do business all over the world, as Mr. Fay said, and they are considering doing business here in Uzbekistan.  They do not seek special assistance, but they do seek serious partners and they also seek reliable information.  They seek a fair playing field and the ability to compete openly in the marketplace of ideas and innovation.

Some of them may even consider investing in Uzbekistan, and in someday partnering with local producers or even opening factories themselves.  But just as important is their more immediate desire to bring revolutionary and reliable products into Uzbekistan’s marketplace, products which Uzbek entrepreneurs can make use of to grow Uzbekistan’s economy and potentially expand into new markets.  In today’s globalized world, trade is just as important as investment.  And, as Assistant Secretary Kumar said in his visit when the roundtable idea was born, “investment follows trade.”

This gathering is an opportunity to engage with these businesses, to show them what Uzbekistan has to offer.  The world is large, as you know, but the global business community is comparatively small.  Word gets around quickly.  If these companies, who are with us today, have positive experiences in Uzbekistan during the short time that they are in the country, and if that experience proves fruitful, cooperative relationships in the future, then they will spread the word.  If they find capable, willing partners among Uzbek companies, more potential partners will come.

So, I urge you all not only to share views with one another, but to actively listen and absorb what you hear.  Our visitors do business all over the world, and they bring with them enormous insight and experience.  And I’m sure they will have important, pertinent questions that they wish to raise during the question-and-answer period that is to come later today.

The same goes for the views of the locally based companies that are joining us here today, including members of AmCham.  AmCham is an invaluable voice for the business community.  And we applaud its tireless efforts, we urge the government to work closely with it as it seeks to develop and help Uzbekistan accomplish its diversification and modernization goals.

The kinds of questions all the companies here today raise are likely those that other businesses might consider coming here would also raise, so we hope that we can make the most of this opportunity.

So, I thank you again, Mr. Deputy Minister, for this wonderful opportunity today and in closing, I would like to express our commitment, on the part of my Embassy, to work together to build on this event today to increase understanding and potentially to build partnerships to do a good business in the future.  Thank you very much.

woman speaking
Ambassador Pamela Spratlen Delivers Remarks at U.S.-Uzbek Government-Business Roundtable (U.S. Embassy photo)