Premier Li urges stronger cooperation with Uzbekistan

Xu Wei
Updated: Nov 02,2019 09:33    China Daily
Premier Li Keqiang holds talk with Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov on Nov 1. [Photo/Xinhua]

Premier Li Keqiang and Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov pledged on Nov 1 to expand bilateral trade volume and encourage more Chinese businesses to invest in the nation.

Premier Li, while making his first official visit to the Central Asian country, said at a meeting with Aripov in Tashkent that the two nations should seize opportunities to expand two-way opening-up and forge new landscapes of bilateral cooperation.

China stands ready to push forward bilateral cooperation in various areas under market and commercial principles, and to import more agricultural produce that fits the needs of Chinese consumers, he said.

He also urged efforts to expand cooperation in infrastructure, connectivity, energy and resources, and to open more direct flights between the two nations to enable closer exchanges and cooperation in tourism and culture.

China is glad to see that bilateral trade volume has seen substantial increases, defying the global trend of sluggish trade and investment, he noted.

China is the largest trading partner of Uzbekistan and the country's second largest source of foreign investment. Bilateral trade volume reached $6.26 billion in 2018, up 48.4 percent year-on-year.

Premier Li also voiced China's support to Uzbekistan in choosing a development path that suits its own conditions and backs its efforts to push forward reform and opening-up.

China is willing to step up exchanges of experience on development and enrich the content of the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership, he added.

The Premier, who will also attend the 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Tashkent, hailed the efforts made by Uzbekistan to raise the level of cooperation within the organization.

Aripov hosted Premier Li at a welcoming ceremony upon his arrival, and the two leaders witnessed the signing of a number of cooperation documents covering TV broadcasting, e-commerce, quarantine of agricultural products, science and technology after their meetings.

Uzbekistan attaches great importance to relations with China, and the two countries have conducted high-level and comprehensive cooperation, he said.

The country stands ready to continue to expand bilateral trade volume, and welcomes more Chinese investment, he said.

China has boosted agricultural imports from Uzbekistan in recent years with measures to open its market to a number of products including cherries, peppers and honey. The volume of fruit and vegetable imports rose by 118.6 percent year-on-year in the first half, reaching $33.1 million, said the Ministry of Commerce.

Tashkent is Premier Li's first stop on a five-day Asian trip. He will also make an official visit to Thailand and attend multilateral meetings there.