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Uzbekistan keen to collaborate with Indian textiles, IT firms 

One of the world's largest cotton exporters, Uzbekistan is looking at Indian textiles companies for a possible collaboration. The former Soviet republic is likely to ink an agreement with the Union Textiles Ministry in this regard.

According to sources, a formal agreement on collaboration in the area of cotton and textiles sector may be inked between the two countries by next week. The country grows long-staple quality of cotton - equivalent to Egyptian cotton that matches the requirements of luxury garment brands.

On his two-day visit to Gujarat on May 14-15, Farhod Arziev, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to India, met State government and industry leaders from a variety of sectors, including textiles, information technology, hospitals, pharmaceuticals and tourism.

During his interaction with industry leaders at a meeting organised by FICCI on Tuesday, Arziev showcased the investment opportunities in this Central Asian country. He underlined the incentives being offered to the industry in the form of tax holidays, free land to joint ventures with Uzbek counterparts and cheap skilled workforce.

"Uzbekistan is a changed country now. They have 100 per cent convertible local currency, besides that, banks are supportive and quick to respond to the needs of trade and industry. The biggest advantage is the access to a huge market of former USSR or the CIS countries as there is a duty-free trade agreement with them," said Rajiv Vastupal, Chairman of FICCI-Gujarat State Council.

Vastupal further added that top business houses, including Zydus hospitals, and Shalby hospitals, besides representatives from industries such as IT, tourism and pharmaceuticals sector attended the meeting with the Ambassador on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday, the Ambassador had met Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in Gandhinagar. He expressed keen interest for possible cooperation in the fields of pharmaceutical products, oil and natural gas, and mines, among others.

Rupani also invited Uzbekistan to be part of the coming Vibrant Summit in 2019, to which Arziev agreed and confirmed the participation of a high-level delegation.

However, industries raised concerns about the country being land-locked and far from a port thereby making it difficult for bulk goods industries to trade.

But according to Vastupal, Uzbekistan can offer a suitable eco-system to create back-office operations for Indian IT, telecom and tourism industries due to higher education level and cheap skilled labour.