Tajikistan Tourism Potential Presented in Brussels 

 Accelerate Investment, Industrialization and Tourism Development 
Author : Alberto Turkstra - Diplomatic World Institute - Pictures : Finnova Foundation & Diplomatic World

Brussels, 18th May 2022 - A high-level forum was organised in Brussels by the Embassy of Tajikistan, Diplomatic World (Institute), Proptech Association and Finnova Foundation on the theme of "Investing in Tajikistan while Exploring Tajikistan: Partnering to Accelerate Investment, Industrialization, and Tourism Development". 

It was an opportunity for the strategically located Central Asian republic to showcase its natural beauty and business potential across various sectors to the European audience, comprised of potential investors and tourists.

The Tajik delegation was led by the Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs; Economic Development and Trade; and Finance, alongside the Deputy Chairman of the State Committee on Investments and the Committee on Tourism Development as well as the Deputy Chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.->

Tajikistan has experienced tremendous growth during the three decades of its Independence. However, it has not necessarily been inclusive enough to generate the jobs needed by its youthful population. A vibrant private sector can be the engine of inclusive growth, generating jobs and incomes and providing goods, services and solutions for women and men, and thereby have the potential to increase choices and opportunities. Therefore, developing the private sector - with the help of the EU - is critical for sustainable development in the region for the next years and beyond.

Tajikistan is ready for a qualitative step-change in relations with Europe. Since joining WTO in 2013, Tajik-EU trade and investment flows have been steadily flourishing. Despite the pandemic conditions, the foreign trade turnover in 2021 stood at USD 436.5 million - USD 150.4 million more than the previous year.

On its part, the EU has signalled it is ready to increase co-operation with the strategically located country. This can be understood as part of the increased attention the EU has paid to Central Asia (through the new Central Asia Strategy in place since 2019; as well as the recent Global Gateway Strategy which aims to boost smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport).

Indeed, the European Union can play an important role in helping Tajikistan overcome geographic (being a landlocked country facing higher trading costs) and political constraints that have held back the country's development potential. EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Ambassador Terhi Hakala emphasised the EU's willingness to increase its engagement with Tajikistan, including by negotiating a next-generation Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) to replace the existing Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). Tajikistan is also a candidate country to obtain GSP+ status, which would entail a full removal of customs duties on two-thirds of tariff lines upon the implementation of 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, protection of the environment and good governance.

As to the reasons to invest in Tajikistan, the various presentations highlighted the following: significant investment opportunities across all industries; protection of investor rights; availability of young and highly educated workforces; a new tax code (which has reduced the number of taxes from 10 to 7); relatively low expenses (labour, electricity); availability of Free Economic Zones with a simplified tax regime to help kick-start industrialisation; a secular state & stable government with a long-term vision; and close access to markets with a population of over 1.5 billion (including the People's Republic of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and others).

The Forum was not only a useful platform for information sharing about the investment environment in Tajikistan, and to establish valuable business contacts, but it also witnessed the signature of concrete agreements and cooperation documents. Mr. Najibullo Rajabzoda, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tajik Aluminum Company OJSC TALCO and Mr. Andrew Prelea, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at VAST RESOURCES PLC, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a total investment of USD 20 million. Tajikistan's Avesto Group and Belgian PICANOL NV also signed a MoU on cooperation in the field of textiles and clothing. 

The day following the Forum, during a field visit to INTRACO, specialised in the manufacturing and marketing of animal feed concentrates, a MoU was signed between Amina LLC and Intraco Ltd on cooperation in expanding the production of animal feed additives in Tajikistan. 

Completing the delegation were representatives from companies in Tajikistan's leading and emerging sectors such as mining, light industry, food processing, textiles and artificial intelligence. 

They were joined at the Forum by high-level EU officials, including EU Special Representative for Central Asia Ambassador Terhi Hakala, and representatives from leading European businesses across various sectors, some already with a foothold on the Tajik market such as GEG Mining Switzerland and VAST Resources PLC.

At the Forum, the investment potential of Tajikistan and its attractiveness as a tourism destination were presented to the European business community interested in integrating into the dynamically developing market of Tajikistan, which offers many preferences for partners and is actively working to simplify the procedures for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into its economy as well as creating and doing business in the country. 

Tajikistan has also been making strides in numerous world rankings. It is in the list of top 10 reformers in the 2020 World Bank's Doing Business ranking. It also makes the top 10 safest countries according to the American Institute of Public Opinion Gallup; it occupies 6th place in the world for use of green energy (over 95 per cent of its electricity comes from renewable resources, mostly hydropower) according to the World Bank. 

As a country unique for its crystal clear lakes and majestic mountains, Tajikistan makes it to the list of top 10 most attractive tourist destinations according to "Globe Spots" magazine.

There is no doubt that the natural beauty of Tajikistan can be a big attraction for tourists. Indeed, mountains cover 93 per cent of its territory, and the country is often referred to as the "roof of the world". 

However, reaching the country is still challenging since there are only a few international flights, but the government has now extended visa-free travel for all EU Member States passport holders, and European travel operators are reporting an increased interest in Tajikistan by travellers seeking exotic and untapped destinations.

To conclude, what is clear from the conclusions of the Forum is that both Tajikistan and the European Union are ready for a qualitative and quantitative upgrading in their relationship across all areas, and that the conditions are ripe for this to happen.

About the Embassy of Tajikistan

The Embassy of Tajikistan is one of 342 foreign representations in Belgium and one of 385 foreign representations in Brussels. Tajikistan maintains 29 embassies abroad, as well as 15 consulates and one other representation. The Tajik capital, Dushanbe, hosts 22 embassies, and there are seven consulates and one other representation in Tajikistan.

About the Diplomatic World Institute

The Diplomatic World Institute is a sister organisation of the Diplomatic World Group (Magazine). The Institute acts as an interface between industries, societies and administrations by creating sustainable partnerships and forums specifically focused on topical global issues such as African development, creating cultural conditions for understanding, innovation or global transition. The creation and maintenance of a special economic zone with strong free trade and direct investment connections is a primary concern for the Institute. All of the Institute's actions are ultimately aimed at actively contributing to safeguarding world peace and prosperity. The global exchange of cultural and economic goods prevents armed conflicts and increases personal and social wealth. Therefore, the World Diplomatic Institute - among others - acts in close cooperation with FEMOZA - The World Free & Special Economic Zones Federation.

About the European Proptech Association

The association's mission is to support a sustainable European PropTech market and to create a positive impact on the European living environment and beyond. Its objectives are: to increase cross-border collaborations, standardise European PropTech markets, create a legal framework adapted to PropTech, foster innovation in the real estate sector and facilitate access to finance.

About Finnova

Finnova is a Spanish-Belgian non-profit foundation based in Brussels (Belgium) with a presence in Spain in the Valencian Community, the Basque Country, Andalusia, the Community of Madrid, Extremadura and the Canary Islands. Finnova's mission is to assist in the creation of innovative initiatives through appropriate funding and support. Finnova facilitates communication and information between different public and private entities with the aim of supporting and promoting EU funding streams in the thematic areas of environment, water, health, public works, energy, tourism, ICT and entrepreneurship. Finnova's experience in leading European project communication and dissemination activities is combined with a strong proven track record in start-ups and business support programmes, such as accelerators, incubators and ceremonial event selection and awarding. In 2021 Finnova has received from the European Commission the European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) in category 4 of Support for the internationalisation of enterprises. In its commitment to innovation, Finnova has been organising the Startup Europe Awards since 2016, an initiative of the European Commission's DG Connect, to recognise the best European startups in the social field.