Source Pravda.Ru

Uzbek, Lithuanian PMs Discuss Economic Relations - 21 February, 2002

Meeting in Tashkent, Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas and Uzbek Prime Minister Otkir Sultonov discussed plans to renew Uzbekistan's export via Lithuania's Baltic Sea port Klaipeda and possible Lithuanian business investments in Uzbekistan's food and transport sectors.

Brazauskas met Sultonov on Monday [18 February] and detailed the port of Klaipeda's capacity, terminals and shipping line prospects, the Lithuanian government's press service reported. Members of the Uzbek government at the meeting said they were aware of modernization at the Lithuanian port's facilities, and announced that Uzbekistan's cargo exports through the Lithuanian port would be renewed in the near future. Officials at the meeting said Uzbek companies had sent up to 600,000 metric tonnes of cargo through the Lithuanian port annually just several years back. Brazauskas and Sultonov talked about possible shipment of natural gas from Uzbekistan to Lithuania. Uzbekistan exports around 8m cubic meters of natural gas annually.

The two prime ministers also talked about terrorism. Both heads of government detailed their countries' efforts to contribute to the international coalition against terrorism.

After the meeting, the two prime ministers signed a Lithuanian-Uzbek intergovernmental agreement on attracting and protecting of investment and avoidance of double taxation and prevention [of] fiscal violations. Lithuanian Interior Minister Juozas Bernatonis and Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov signed an agreement on cooperation in crime fighting.

Expanding economic and trade ties is the stated purpose of Prime Minister Brazauskas's three-day visit to Uzbekistan. Lithuanian exports to Uzbekistan over the last year were off by almost 60 per cent as compared to the year 2000. Last year, Lithuanian exports to Uzbekistan accounted for 0.41 per cent of the total national exports. The volume of trade between the two countries failed to reach 38m euros. Lithuanian businessmen operating in Uzbekistan blamed bilateral economic problems on the difference between the official exchange rate for the Uzbek currency, the som, and its commercial value.