On October 23, the 76th plenary meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) started its work in Tashkent. Following the accession to ICAC in May this year, the European Union Delegation is attending the ICAC plenary for the first time and also representing all EU Member States.
The EU Delegation is headed by Mr. Leonard Mizzi, Head of Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition Unit (Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission), and includes also Ms. Renate Hahlen, EU Representative in ICAC Standing Committee (EU Delegation to the USA). The meeting was opened by Minister Kamalov, Chair of the Organising Committee, who highlighted developments in the cotton industry within Uzbekistan and welcomed delegates from around the world.
The membership of the EU in the ICAC is of strategic significance to the world cotton industry and the 150 million people involved in cotton production, marketing and processing each season. Some of the most important trade and research institutions in the world of cotton are headquartered in the EU. The EU is the 11th largest producer and 6th largest exporter of cotton and the EU is the largest market for textiles in the world. The European Union itself, and many individual countries and companies within the EU, are significant providers of cotton-specific development assistance in recipient countries.
Within the mission to Uzbekistan, Mr Mizzi accompanied by Mr Ovidiu Mic, Head of Cooperation at EU Delegation to Tashkent, also met with Mr. Mustafaev, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources and development partners active in Uzbekistan, including FAO and the World Bank Group (WB, IFC) to discuss possible cooperation opportunities in agriculture development within EU-Uzbekistan partnership.
The Government of Uzbekistan embarked upon a structural reform aiming at transforming a Soviet-style economy based on cotton and its primary processing to an industrial and agro-industrial economy. The EU Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2020 supports this development policy shift - it earmarks €168 million for support to Rural Development in four subsectors: [i] diversification/productivity; [ii] sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems; [iii] employment and income generation; [iv] enhancement of socio-economic living standards of the most vulnerable groups in rural areas.
The European Union, composed of 28 Member States, is the world’s largest provider of development aid. Uzbekistan receives both bilateral and regional assistance. The EU has allocated €168 million to its bilateral cooperation with Uzbekistan in 2014-2020, which focuses on rural development. Uzbekistan also receives regional and thematic assistance in areas like border management (through the programme BOMCA) and drug control (through CADAP/IcSP), education (through Erasmus+), democracy and human rights (through EIDHR), energy (through IFCA & INOGATE), SME development (through CA-Invest), peace and stability (through IcSP) and water/environment and nuclear safety (through IFCA and INSC).The EU has been active in Uzbekistan since 1996 and provides approximately EUR 24 million annually in development assistance.