Mirziyoyev secures a landslide victory as other token candidates participate primarily as a formality

More promises are on the horizon, but the prospects for democracy are dwindling

Now that the elections are completed, firms should anticipate the continuation of economic reforms aimed at liberalization of the economy. The emphasis on mass privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) will persist in 2023–2024, providing fresh opportunities for potential investors. Investors can expect the privatization of several key entities in Uzbekistan, such as the Dehkonobod potash plant, Thermal Power Plant, UzAuto Motor, Uz-Dongju Paint Company, and a few banks, including Qishloq Qurilish Bank, Sanoat Qurilish Bank, National Bank JSC, Asakabank, and Uzbek Industrial and Construction Bank, between 2023 and 2025. However, it is important to note that due to structural challenges and slow bureaucracy, the process may take longer than initially anticipated. Additionally, there is a notable risk of SOEs being transferred to “insiders,” wealthy individuals with close ties to the ruling regime.

Throughout his election campaign, Mirziyoyev made ambitious promises, including doubling the GDP by 2030, elevating Uzbekistan to an upper-middle-income country, and doubling exports through WTO membership. Given these objectives, robust growth projections in 2023–2024 and relocation of some businesses to Central Asia due to the Western sanctions on Russia, companies should carefully monitor emerging market trends for new B2B and B2G opportunities and remain vigilant to capitalize on the favorable economic climate.


  • President Shavkat Mirziyoyev won the snap presidential election held on July 9 with an overwhelming majority of 87.1% of the votes. This victory followed a constitutional referendum held on April 30, which resulted in the adoption of a new constitution, granting the president the ability to remain in power until at least 2037.
  • As per international observers, the election was well organized from a technical standpoint. However, it took place in an environment that lacks political pluralism and genuine competition.
  • President Mirziyoyev assumed power in 2016 following the death of the 27-year autocratic ruler, Islam Karimov, after winning the elections with a landslide victory (88.6%). He was re-elected in 2021, securing 80.31% of the vote.
  • The 2023 Press Freedom Index improved compared to 2017, when Uzbekistan ranked 169th out of 180 countries. However, compared to last year’s index, the country experienced a setback, falling from 133rd to 137th place.
  • On the Global Freedom Index, which assesses political rights and civil liberties, Uzbekistan is classified as a “not free country,” scoring 12 out of 100. For comparison, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan scored 9 and 23 out of 100, respectively. On the 2022 Corruption Perception Index, Uzbekistan ranked 126th, Kazakhstan 101st, and Azerbaijan 157th. 
  • On the positive side, Mirziyoyev successfully put an end to forced labor in the cotton fields, resolved long-standing demarcation and delimitation issues with neighboring countries that had persisted for decades, and opened up the economy to international investors.

Our View

While we expect that economic reforms will persist following the elections, the prospects for genuine political reforms and democratization appear less promising. Tolerance toward alternative political views will remain limited. Following the death of President Islam Karimov in 2016, there has been only a marginal improvement in the media and political environment. Most media outlets still operate under significant government control, making it difficult to express criticism toward state authorities. Although Mirziyoyev initially released political and religious prisoners in the early years of his reign, new inmates are now filling those positions as a result of the crackdown on the regime’s critics.

The re-election of the current president offers stability for businesses, but it could also slow the pace of reforms if the president prioritizes reformist rhetoric over taking concrete actions, a pattern observed in various authoritarian regimes. Persistent issues such as chronic corruption, nepotism, and vested interests will also continue to impact Uzbekistan’s business environment. While foreign investors show significant interest in entering the market, these challenges may deter some from pursuing opportunities. To mitigate potential risks, we recommend that investors conduct thorough due diligence, seek local partnerships, and implement effective risk management plans before investing in the country. Due to the high risk of sanction circumvention through the territory of Uzbekistan, firms should continue to work closely with legal and compliance teams to avoid sanctions-busting. Two Uzbek logistics companies, namely GFK Logistics Asia LLC and Alfa Beta Creative LLC, engaged in parallel imports have already been hit by the EU’s 11th package of measures.

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