This week we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day 2021, and this year’s theme is “Taking Your Ideas to Market.” This theme highlights the importance of intellectual property (IP) protection systems for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are the backbone of both the global, and Uzbekistan’s, economy. They deliver the goods and services we need every day, formulate breakthrough innovations and inspiring creations, and they create jobs – some SMEs become the world’s leading businesses of tomorrow. Where IP protections exist, they drive innovation and creativity, power economic recovery, and create employment opportunities in SMEs and larger businesses alike.
SMEs account for around 90 percent of all businesses worldwide, employ around 50 percent of the global workforce, generate up to 40 percent of national income in many emerging economies, and are essential contributors to job creation and economic development. In Uzbekistan, in 2020, SMEs were the biggest source of employment, providing approximately 73.8 percent of jobs, compared to 49.7 percent in 2000. In 2020, SMEs were worth 53.9 percent of the Uzbekistani Gross Domestic Product and contributed to 27 percent of the country’s exports. In Uzbekistan, small and medium businesses really are key drivers of economic growth.
Innovation comes in many forms. While many inventions tend to be primarily scientific in nature, if patented and/or trademarked, they often set the stage for longer-term SME business development. The United States recognizes that innovation and creativity are critical for building a sustainable future, and we are committed to supporting the innovators and creators who are pushing boundaries every day to find new solutions. For example, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) has been experimenting with the nutritious Andean grain quinoa for possible future introduction in Uzbekistan because it is a potential cash crop that both absorbs salt well through its roots and needs little water. As Uzbekistan works to diversify its agricultural practices, scientists at ICBA are supporting the search for crops that will both support small farmers and businesses and be practical considering local water resources. ICBA recently announced it had patented its quinoa processing invention with the Intellectual Property Agency at the Ministry of Justice, which will provide scientists and farmers working on quinoa with the proper legal mechanisms to develop the business behind their science.
The United States is committed to open markets, promoting trade, encouraging innovation, and creating jobs. These advances would not be possible without strong IP rights to protect innovators and spur creation both in the United States and in Uzbekistan. Join us in celebrating the ingenuity and creativity that lies behind every SME, and let’s support local SMEs and innovations to create sustainable jobs in both our countries.