Republic of Uzbekistan
Area: 477,000 sq. km. (117,868 sq. mi.)--slightly larger than California.
Major cities: Capital--Tashkent (pop. 2.5 million); Samarkand (600,000); Bukhara (350,000).
Terrain: Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river valleys along Amu Darya, Syr Darya; shrinking Aral Sea; semiarid grasslands in east.
Climate: Mid-latitude desert--long, hot summers, mild winters.
Population (est. by 01/01/02): 24,908,000.
Ethnic groups (1996 est.): Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5%.
Religion: Moslem 88% (Sunni), Eastern Orthodox 9%, other 3%.
Language: Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%.
Education: Literacy--99% (total population).
Health (1996): Life expectancy--60.09 years men; 67.52 years women.
Work force (11.9 million): Agricultural and forestry--44%, industry--20%; services--36%.
Independence: September 1, 1991.
Constitution: December 8, 1992.
Branches: Executive--president, prime minister, cabinet. Legislative--Supreme Assembly (Oliy Majlis)--unicameral (250 seats). Judiciary--Supreme Court, constitutional court, economic court. Administrative subdivisions (viloyatlar): 12, plus autonomous region of Karakalpakstan and city of Tashkent.
Political parties and leaders: Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party--established February 18, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 11, Turgunpulat DAMINOV, first secretary; Democratic National Rebirth Party (Milly Tiklanish Democratic Partiya) or MTP--established on June 3, 1995 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 10, Ibrohim GOFUROV, chairman; Fatherland Progress Party (Vatan Tarakiyoti) or VTP--In April 2000, VTP merged with the National Democratic Party "Fidokorlar" (Fidokorlar Milliy Democratic Partiya), in Tashkent, number of seats in the parliament 62, Ahtam TURSUNOV, first secretary. People's Democratic Party or PDPU (Uzbekiston Halq Democratic Partiya, formerly Communist Party)--established November 1, 1991 in Tashkent, number of seats in parliament 50, Abdulkhafiz JALOLOV, first secretary. Other political or pressure groups and leaders--Birlik (Unity) Movement--Abdurakhim PULATOV, chairman; Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party--Mohammed SOLIH, chairman (banned Dec. 1992); Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan--Abdumannob PULATOV, chairman; Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan--Mikhail ARDZINOV, chairman.
Suffrage: Universal at age 18 (unless imprisoned or certified as insane).
Defense: Military manpower--fit for military service males age 15-49: 5,161,926 (2000 est.) universal 18-month military service for men. Flag: Blue, white, and green horizontal bands separated by thin red lines; white crescent and 12 white stars representing 12 regions in upper left (on blue band).
Economic growth in Uzbekistan is far below potential due to country's poor investment climate and failure to attract foreign investment, an extremely restrictive trade regime, failure to reform the agricultural sector of the economy--potentially the engine of economic growth for this largely rural economy--and severe misallocation of resources due to nonfunctioning of the price mechanism as a result of government intervention in markets. The government has implemented its restrictive exchange regime in order to meet its strategy of limiting imports of consumer goods and channeling scarce foreign exchange resources into capital goods and high technology. Due to the unreliability of government statistics, which often serve political rather than economic ends, it is difficult to make an accurate estimate of economic growth in Uzbekistan.
GDP: Based on the statistics provided by the Ministry of Macroeconomics and Statistics, however, the Economy Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) estimated -GDP growth for 2001 at 4.5% and 4.6% for 2000. The real figures are almost certainly lower, perhaps even stagnant. According to official statistics, inflation in 2000 was approximately 28.2% and was estimated at 26.2% for 2001. However, the U.S. embassy estimates inflation for 2000 at about 50% and for 2001 accelerating to 60%-65%. According to official statistics, real wage growth in 2001 was about 15%. Per capita GDP: U.S. Government analysts believe that real wage growth was stagnant and, in fact, economic analysts estimate per capita GDP at about $350 per capita in 2001.
Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, coal, gold, uranium, silver, copper, lead and zinc, tungsten, molybdenum.
Agriculture: Products--Cotton, fourth-largest producer worldwide; vegetables, fruits, grain, livestock.
Industry: Types--textiles, food processing, machine building, metallurgy, natural gas.
Trade: Total exports (2000 $3.26 billion)--approximately $2.9 billion cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, food products, automobiles. Major export markets--Russia 16.7%, United Kingdom 7.2% Switzerland 8.3%, South Korea 3.3%, Kazakhstan 3.1%, Germany 1.1%). Total imports--approx. $2.94 billion (2000 est.): machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals; foodstuffs. Major partners--Russia 15.8%, South Korea 9.8%, United States 8.7%, Germany 8.7%, Kazakhstan 7.3%, and Ukraine 6.1%.
Debt (2001 est., external): $4.5 billion.
Uzbekistan is Central Asia's most populous country. Its 24 million people, concentrated in the south and east of the country, are close to half the region's total population. Uzbekistan had been one of the poorest republics of the Soviet Union; much of its population was engaged in cotton farming in small rural communities. The population continues to be heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood. The predominant ethnicity is Uzbek. Other ethnic groups include Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5%. The nation is 88% Sunni Moslem, 9% Eastern Orthodox, and 3% other. Uzbek is the official state language; however, Russian is the de facto language for interethnic communication, including much day-to-day government and business use.
The educational system has achieved 99% literacy, and the mean amount of schooling for both men and women is 11 years. However, due to budget constraints and other transitional problems following the collapse of the Soviet Union, texts and other school supplies, teaching methods, curricula, and educational institutions are outdated, inappropriate, and poorly kept. Additionally, the proportion of school-aged persons enrolled has been dropping. Although the government is concerned about this, budgets remain tight. Similarly, in health care, life expectancy is long, but after the breakup of the Soviet Union, health care resources have declined, reducing health care quality, accessibility, and efficiency.
Located in the heart of Central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, Uzbekistan has a long and interesting heritage. The leading cities of the famous Silk Road--Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva--are located in Uzbekistan, and many famous conquerors passed through the land. Alexander the Great stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. and married Roxanna, daughter of a local chieftain. Conquered by Muslim Arabs in the eight century A.D., the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire in the 9th century. Its territory was overrun by Genghis Khan and his Mongols in 1220. In the 1300s, Timur, known in the west as Tamerlane, built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Uzbekistan's most noted tourist sights date from the Timurid dynasty. Later, separate Muslim city-states emerged with strong ties to Persia. In 1865, Russia occupied Tashkent and by the end of the 19th century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia. In 1876, the Russians dissolved the Khanate of Kokand, while allowing the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara to remain as direct protectorates. Russia placed the rest of Central Asia under colonial administration, and invested in the development of Central Asia's infrastructure, promoting cotton growing, and encouraging settlement by Russian colonists.
In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded from the territories of the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Fergana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand. During the Soviet era, Moscow used Uzbekistan for its tremendous cotton-growing and natural resource potential. The inefficient irrigation used to support the former has been the main cause of shrinkage of the Aral Sea to half its former volume, making this one of the world's worst environmental disasters. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991. Islam Karimov, former First Secretary of the Communist Party, was elected President in December 1991 with 88% of the vote; however, the election was not viewed as free or fair by foreign observers. Most government leaders are former Soviet officials.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Constitutionally, the Government of Uzbekistan provides for separation of powers, freedom of speech, and representative government. In reality, the executive holds almost all power. The judiciary lacks independence and the legislature, which meets only a few days each year, has little power to shape laws. The president selects and replaces provincial governors. Under terms of a December 1995 referendum, Karimov's first term was extended to 2000. Another national referendum was held January 27, 2002 to yet again extend Karimov's term. The referendum passed and Karimov's term was extended to December 2007. International observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. Also passed in the 2002 referendum was a plan to create a bicameral Parliament. Several political parties have been formed with government approval but have yet to show interest in advocating alternatives to government policy. Similarly, although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control, or rarely broach political topics.
The government severely represses Muslims it suspects of Islamic extremism. More than 6,500 suspected extremists are incarcerated, and hundreds are believed to have died over the past several years from prison disease and abuse. The effect of the repression is a general stifling of religious expression by Muslims. Because of the repression, young Muslims have few options for religious instruction, and some turn to underground extremist Islamic movements. Uzbekistan does not have a free press, and it does not have a democracy. Political opponents have been driven from office. Many have fled, and others have been arrested. Some have been murdered in detention. The police force and the intelligence service use torture as a routine investigation technique. The government has begun to bring to trial some officers accused of torture. Four officers have been convicted.
Principal Government Officials
President and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers--Islam Karimov
Prime Minister--Otkir Sultanov
First Deputy Prime Minister--Kozim Nosirovich Tulyaganov
Deputy Prime Ministers
Macroeconomics and Statistics--Rustam Azimov
Women's Issues--Dilbar Ghulomova
Trade and Communal Services--Mirabror Usmonov
Transport, Construction--Rustam Yunosov
Post and Telecommunications Agency--Fathullo Abdullaev
Public Education--Risboy Jorayev
Emergency Situations--Ravshan Khaidarov
Energy and Fuel--Valery Atayev
Foreign Affairs--Abdulaziz Kamilov
Foreign Economic Relations--Elyor Ghaniyev
Health-- Feruz Nazirov
Higher and Specialized Secondary Education--Saidakhror Ghulomov
Internal Affairs--Zokirjon Almatov
Labor and Social Protection--Okiljon Obidov
Other Key Officials
Chairman, National Bank-Foreign Economics--Zanutdin Mirkhojaev
Chairman, State Bank--Fayzulla Mullajanov
Chairman, State Committee for Customs--Utkir Tolipovich Komilov
Chairman, State Committee for Taxation--Botir Khojayev
Chairman, State Committee for Geology and Mineral--Nurmahammad Akhmedov
Chairman, National Security Service--Resources, Rustam Inoyatov
Secretary, National Security Council--Mirakbar Rakhmonqulov
Ambassador to the United States--Shavkat Khamrakulovv
Designate Ambassador to the United Nations--Alisher Vohidov
The Republic of Uzbekistan maintains an embassy at 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel.: (202) 887-5300; fax (202) 293-6804. Its consulate and mission to the UN in New York are located at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 326/327a, New York, NY 10017. Consulate tel.: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 486-7998.
For several years now, the Government of Uzbekistan has stated that it is committed to a gradual transition to a free market economy. Very recently, the government signed an agreement with the IMF to move toward current account convertibility. If implemented, these steps will move Uzbekistan toward a market economy, although much structural reform is needed, particularly in the area of improving the investment climate for foreign investors and in freeing the agricultural sector from smothering state control. Until now, continuing restrictions on currency convertibility and other government measures to control economic activity have constrained economic growth and led international lending organizations to suspend or scale back credits.
The government has made some progress in reducing inflation and the budget deficit, but government statistics understate both, while overstating economic growth. There are no reliable statistics on unemployment, which is believed to be high and growing. The economy is based primarily on agriculture and agricultural processing; Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. It also is a major producer of gold with the largest open-pit gold mine in the world and has substantial deposits of copper, strategic minerals, gas, and oil. The government is taking some modest steps to reduce the barriers that constrain the nascent private sector.
GDP and Employment
The government claims that the GDP rose 4.5% in 2001. Unemployment and underemployment are very high, but reliable figures are difficult to obtain, as no recent credible surveying has been done. Underemployment in the agricultural sector is particularly high--which is important given the fact that 60% of the population is rural-based. Many observers believe that employment growth and real wage growth has been stagnant, given virtually no growth in output.
Literacy in Uzbekistan is almost universal, and workers are generally well-educated and trained. Most local technical and managerial training does not meet international business standards, but foreign companies engaged in production report that locally hired workers learn quickly and work effectively. Foreign firms generally find that younger workers, untainted by the Soviet system, work well at all levels. The government emphasizes foreign education and each year sends about 400 students to the United States, Europe, and Japan for university degrees, after which they have a commitment to work for the government for 5 years. Some American companies offer special training programs in the United States to their local employees.
With the closure or downsizing of many foreign firms, it is relatively easy to find qualified, well-trained employees, and salaries are very low by Western standards. Salary caps, which the government implements in an apparent attempt to prevent firms from circumventing restrictions on withdrawal of cash from banks, prevent many foreign firms from paying their workers as much as they would like. The threshold for the maximum income tax rate of 33% is 245,000 soum ($363) per year. Labor market regulations in Uzbekistan are similar to that of the Soviet Union, with all rights guaranteed but some rights unobserved. The only known case of workers striking since independence was of Turkish construction workers striking against their Turkish employer over working conditions.
Prices; Monetary/Fiscal Policy
Since the fall of 1996, Uzbekistan's national currency, the soum, has not been freely convertible. The government sets three level exchange rates, all highly overvalued, but most businesses and individuals are unable to buy dollars legally at these rates, so a widespread black market meets the unmet demand. President Karimov repeatedly pledged to restore convertibility in 2000, but failed to do so. As a result the IMF closed its office in Tashkent in the spring of 2001. On November 1, 2001, the government devalued the official exchange rate to a level nearly equal to the so-called "commercial" rate of approximately 693 soum/$ and eliminated the use of this "official rate" for all but accounting purposes.
In March 2002, the government devalued the exchange booth rate from approximately 920 to about 1,300, much closer to the curb market rate. The Staff Monitored Program, signed by the Uzbek Government and the IMF, envisions lowering the gap between the so-called official and commercial rates and the curb rate to no more than 20% by the end of June 2002. Outstanding external debt reached $4.5 billion as of end of 2001, and tax collection rates remain high, due to the use of the banking system by the government as a collection agency. Implementation of the SMP would likely cause tax revenues to fall, however, and the government has few traditional tools to conduct open market operations in the area of monetary policy. In April, a new decree was promulgated which allows for the Central Bank to sell bonds, essential to the conduct of monetary policy. Technical assistance from the World Bank, Office of Technical Assistance at the Treasury Department, and from the UNDP is being provided in reforming the Central Bank and Ministry of Finance into institutions which conduct market-oriented fiscal and monetary policy.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agriculture and the agroindustrial sector contribute more than 40% to Uzbekistan's GDP. Cotton is Uzbekistan's dominant crop, accounting for roughly 45% of the country's exports (gold is second at 22%). It also produces significant amounts of silk, fruits, and vegetables. Virtually all agriculture involves heavy irrigation. Agricultural workers receive very low wages, because the government uses the difference between the world prices of cotton and wheat and what they pay the farmers to subsidize highly inefficient capital intensive industrial concerns, such as factories producing automobiles, airplanes, and tractors.
Consequently, agricultural productivity is low, with many farmers focusing on producing fruits and vegetables--for which supply and demand determine the price--on small plots of land, as well as smuggling cotton and wheat across the border with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in order to obtain higher prices.
Minerals and mining also are important to Uzbekistan's economy. Gold is most prominent; Uzbekistan is the world's seventh-largest producer, about 80 tons p.a., and holds the fourth-largest reserves. Uzbekistan has an abundance of natural gas, used both for domestic consumption and export; oil almost sufficient for domestic needs; and Uzbekistan has significant reserves of copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and uranium. Inefficiency in energy use is extremely high, given the failure to use realistic price signals (tariffs) to cause users to conserve energy and failure of domestic producers and the government to reap potential revenues from the energy sector.
Trade and Investment
Uzbekistan has adopted a policy of import substitution reflected, for example, in its strong focus on increased wheat and oil and gas production. Given the multiple exchange rate system and the highly over-regulated trade regime has led to both import and export declines since 1996, although imports have declined more than exports, as the government squeezed imports to maintain hard currency reserves. Most "legal" import growth has been in capital equipment related to investment projects. Currency convertibility restrictions have severely constrained trade and new investment. Uzbekistan's traditional "trade" partners are NIS states, notably Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and the other Central Asian countries. Non-NIS partners have been increasing in importance in recent years, with the U.S., Korea, Germany, Japan, and Turkey being the most active.
Uzbekistan is a member of the IMF, World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It has observer status at the World Trade Organization and is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization. It is a signatory to the Convention on Settlement of Investment Disputes Between States and Nationals of Other States, the Paris Convention on Industrial Property, the Madrid Agreement on Trademarks Protection, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In 2002, Uzbekistan was again placed on the special "301" Watch List for lack of intellectual copyright protection. Although Uzbekistan has patent, copyright, and trademark laws dating from 1996 and compiled with technical assistance from experts, nonenforcement has caused the country to again be placed on the Watch List.
Uzbekistan's lack of currency convertibility has caused foreign investment inflows to dwindle to a trickle, in fact Uzbekistan has the lowest level of FDI in the CIS. Since Uzbekistan's independence, U.S. firms have invested roughly $500 million in Uzbekistan. Large U.S. investors include Newmont, reprocessing tailings from the Muruntau gold mine, Case Corporation, manufacturing and servicing cotton harvesters and tractors; Coca Cola, with bottling plants in Tashkent, Namangan and Samarkand; Texaco, producing lubricants for sale in the Uzbek market; and Baker Hughes, in oil and gas development. No large new investments have taken place from the U.S. in the last 5 years.
Uzbekistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 1991. However, it is opposed to reintegration and withdrew from the CIS collective security arrangement in 1999. Since that time, Uzbekistan has participated in the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan and in UN-organized groups to help resolve the Tajik and Afghan conflicts, both of which it sees as posing threats to its own stability. It is a member of the United Nations, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Partnership for Peace, and the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It belongs to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Economic Cooperation Organization--comprised of the five Central Asian countries, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It is a founding member of and remains involved in the Central Asian Union, formed with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, joined in March 1998 by Tajikistan. The United States has consulted closely with Uzbekistan on regional security problems, and Uzbekistan has been a close ally of the United States at the United Nations.
Uzbekistan possesses the largest and most competent military forces in the Central Asian region, having around 85,000 people in uniform. Its structure is inherited from the Soviet armed forces, although it is moving rapidly toward a fully restructured organization which will eventually be built around light and Special Forces. The Uzbek Armed Forces' equipment is not modern and its training, while improving, is neither uniform nor adequate yet for its new mission of territorial security. The government has accepted the arms control obligations of the former Soviet Union, acceded to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (as a non-nuclear state), and has supported an active program by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in western Uzbekistan (Nukus and Vozrozhdeniya Island).
The Government of Uzbekistan was recently spending about 3.7% of the GDP on the military but also has received growing infusion under FMF and other security assistance programs since 1998. As a result of the low key but important contacts established between the armed forces of Uzbekistan and the United States since 1998, Uzbekistan immediately approved U.S. Central Command's request for access to a vital military air base in southern Uzbekistan follow September 11, 2001. The Ministry of Defense has hesitantly supported all subsequent U.S. requests for additional military activities in support of "Operation Enduring Freedom."
The U.S. recognized the independence of Uzbekistan on December 25, 1991, and opened an embassy in Tashkent in March 1992. U.S.-Uzbek relations have flourished in recent years and were given an additional boost by the March meeting between President Bush and President Karimov in Washington, DC. High-level visits have increased since September 11, 2001, including that of the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and numerous congressional delegations. The U.S. believes that its own interests will best be served by the development of an independent, stable, prosperous, and democratic Central Asia. As the most populous country in Central Asia and the geographic and strategic center of Central Asia, Uzbekistan plays a pivotal role in the region. The United States accordingly has developed a broad relationship covering political, military, nonproliferation, economic, trade, assistance, and related issues. This has been institutionalized through the establishment of the U.S.-Uzbekistan Joint Commission, which held its first meeting in February 1998.
The U.S. has consulted closely with Uzbekistan on regional security problems, and Uzbekistan has been a close ally of the United States at the United Nations. Uzbekistan has been a strong partner of the United States on foreign policy and security issues ranging from Iraq to Cuba, nuclear proliferation to narcotics trafficking. It has sought active participation in Western security initiatives under the Partnership for Peace, OSCE, and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Uzbekistan views its American ties as balancing regional influences, helping Uzbekistan assert its own regional role, and encouraging foreign investment. Uzbekistan is an ardent supporter of U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and of the war against terror overall.
The United States, in turn, values Uzbekistan as a stable, moderate force in a turbulent region; a market for U.S. exports; a producer of important resources--gold, uranium, natural gas; and a regional hub for pipelines, transportation, communications, and other infrastructure in which U.S. firms seek a leading role. The United States urges greater reform as necessary for long-term stability and prosperity. Registration of independent political parties and human rights NGOs would be an important step. In an important first move, the government registered the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan in March 2002. Enforcement of constitutional safeguards ensuring personal, religious, and press freedom and civil liberties also is needed.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Trade and investment. Trade relations are regulated by a bilateral trade agreement, which entered into force January 14, 1994. It provides for extension of most-favored-nation trade status between the two countries. The U.S. additionally granted Uzbekistan exemption from many U.S. import tariffs under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP status) on August 17, 1994. A Bilateral Investment Treaty was signed December 16, 1994; it has been ratified by Uzbekistan and received advice and consent of the U.S. Senate in October 2000. However, the Bilateral Investment Treaty will be unlikely to enter into force until Uzbekistan embarks on economic reform. The government is taking some modest steps to reduce the red tape that constrains the nascent private sector.
Assistance. The United States has provided significant humanitarian and technical assistance to Uzbekistan. The United States has provided technical support to Uzbekistan's efforts to restructure its economy and to improve its environment and health care system, provided support to nascent NGOs, and provided equipment to improve water availability and quality in the Aral Sea region. Through USAID and the embassy's Public Affairs Section, the U.S. Government supports educational and professional exchanges and other programs that offer Uzbeks the opportunity to study in the United States and to establish professional contacts with their American counterparts. In FY 2001 alone, the United States provided roughly $160 million in humanitarian aid, technical assistance, military-to-military funding, and investment support in Uzbekistan. These programs were designed to promote market reform and to establish a foundation for an open, prosperous, democratic society.
USAID provides both technical and humanitarian assistance. Technical assistance to Uzbekistan promotes sound fiscal and management policies, improved private business operations, a competitive private sector, citizens' participation in political and economic decision making, improved sustainability of social benefits and services, private investment in the energy sector, reduced environmental risks to public health, and other multi-sector reform programs. Programs include business training, subsidies for business development, environmental and science education, and environmental preservation programs. The latter includes the Aral Sea/Regional Water Cooperation program involving the ICKKU, the establishment of water users' associations, waste minimization demonstration programs, and the National Environmental Action Plan. Humanitarian assistance is primarily in the health sector to alleviate effects of the Aral Sea ecological disaster.
Peace Corps staff arrived in Uzbekistan in August 1992, and a bilateral agreement to establish Peace Corps in Uzbekistan was signed November 4, 1992. The first volunteers arrived in December 1992. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency helps fund feasibility studies by U.S. firms and provides other planning services related to major projects in developing countries including Uzbekistan. Department of State-managed exchange programs, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and the Department of Commerce's SABIT Business Internship Program contribute to expansion of technical know-how and support bilateral relations. The U.S. also provides export finance/guarantees and political risk insurance for U.S. exporters and investors through the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corp (OPIC).
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--John E. Herbst
Deputy Chief of Mission--Molly O'Neal
Political/Economic Officer--Larry Memmott
Administrative Officer--Kathleen Hanson
Public Affairs Officer/USIS--Mark Asquino
DAO--LTC Robert Duggleby
Peace Corps--Lawrence Leahy
The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent is at 82 Chilanzarskaya; tel.  (71) 120-5450; fax:  (71) 120-6335; duty officer (cellular):  (71) 180-4060. The Foreign Commercial Service, U.S. Information Service, and U.S. Agency for International Development are at the Sharq Building, 41 Buyuk Turon St. FCS tel.:  (71) 120-6705 or 6706, 133-2880, 1870 or 0597; fax: 120-6692. USIS:  (71) 133-7096, 3581, or 5974; fax: 120-6224; duty officer (cellular): 180-4087. USAID tel.:  (71) 133-1852, 1797, or 7656; fax: 120-6309. Peace Corps is at 2 Sapernaya St. 63/65; tel.:  (71) 54-92-96, 54-94-84, or 54-96-60; fax: 54-98-50; duty officer (cellular):  (71) 180-4093.
Until March 1, 1999, a dual country/area code system is in effect, allowing use of the former country/area codes. For Tashkent, this was  (3712) for six-digit numbers and  (371) for seven-digit numbers.