Accepted paper:

Reform acceleration in Uzbekistan: fortuitous, but how far-reaching?

Authors:

Kobil Ruziev (UWE Bristol)

Paper short abstract:

This study assesses the nature and the extent of fortuitous reform acceleration in Uzbekistan recently and analyses its potential to unleash the country's growth potential in the context of enabling and constraining factors inherited from the previous regime.

Paper long abstract:

Uzbekistan's approach to transition is distinct in many ways, including gradualist tone of reforms, economic self-reliance and strong government intervention in economic and political affairs. Its economic performance is also unique: the economy grew by 4% from in 1993-2003 and by 8% in 2004-2016. However, obsession with aggregate growth targets meant that the authorities overlooked many social, economic and political problems, including basic individual economic rights and political freedoms, which stifled economic opportunities. When Karimov won the 2015 presidential elections, it seemed a further 5 years of his rule was set in stone. But, in 2016, Karimov unexpectedly passed away and Mirziyoev, who served as the Prime Minister under Karimov's regime, became the new president. Mirziyoyev's succession to power, therefore, was interpreted as the continuation, if not the worsening, of the status quo in terms of reforms sluggishness, obsession with security and the flagrant violation of individual freedoms and liberties. Since taking over the presidency, however, Mirziyoyev's commitment to reforms pleasantly surpassed all expectations. He rapidly accelerated liberalisation policies in a wide range of areas including liberalisation of monetary and foreign exchange policies, trade and agricultural policies, and softening of policies on media and individual freedoms, just to name a few examples. This study therefore assesses the nature and the extent of this fortuitous reform acceleration in the country and analyses its potential to unleash the country's growth potential in the context of enabling and constraining factors inherited from the previous regime.

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Stream:
Opening up the Market
30 years after 1989: re-assessing models of market transition [paper]