BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2016/36

President Vladimir Putin visited Uzbekistan this week to extend his condolences for the death of the country’s long-time president Islam Karimov and to meet with Uzbekistan’s prime minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The successor of Karimov is not yet designated and some observers have expressed concerns about a possible behind-the-scenes power struggle in the Central Asian country. Mirziyoyev is considered a top contender for the president’s post.

Throughout the Karimov era, Uzbekistan emphasised its independence and largely shunned regional cooperation projects such as the Eurasian Economic Union. Unlike other Central Asian countries, Uzbekistan has had less extensive economic relations also with China, choosing instead to balance between its large neighbours in relative isolation. Uzbekistan has a fairly closed economy and holds only minor economic significance for Russia and China. Uzbekistan accounts for just 0.5 % of Russian foreign trade and even less of China’s foreign trade. Russian and Chinese firms have invested in some oil & gas projects in Uzbekistan. Repatriation of guest worker earnings from Russia last year accounted for nearly 5 % of Uzbekistan’s GDP.