Abdulaziz Janturaev

Image source: www.kun.uz

On the road to economic transformation, Uzbekistan seeks to create a free market to navigate the global transition to electric vehicles (EVs). As the country seeks to support local entrepreneurs, attract foreign investment, and promote sustainable transportation, it is critical to examine the current state of market freedom and the obstacles it faces in importing electric vehicles. However, recent reforms in this area pose a threat to the free market in the transportation business and impede the economic progress of hundreds of entrepreneurs. In this blog, I will analyze the current challenges in this area and shed light on the international experience in this case to offer some recommendations to promote a free market structure for local and global businesses.

Uzbekistan ranked among the top five for improvement in the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2024 study, demonstrating its commitment to creating an enabling environment for doing business. Despite these achievements, however, the market in Uzbekistan still faces constraints that prevent it from realizing its true potential for freedom. State-owned enterprises continue to dominate key sectors, limiting competition and private sector participation.

Recently, the Chinese company BYD, in cooperation with Uzavtosanoat, began production of electric and hybrid cars in Uzbekistan. They have petitioned the government to restrict “irregular imports” of BYD-branded cars into Uzbekistan. Specifically, BYD is asking to limit indiscriminate imports of electric vehicles that do not meet local climate and road conditions and do not have official warranties. This request emphasizes the importance of ensuring that imported vehicles meet regulatory standards, as outlined in the Regulation No. 237 of the Cabinet of Ministers in 2017, aimed at improving the safety and reliability of imported vehicles for operation in Uzbekistan. Despite its official status as a joint-stock company, Uzavtosanoat simultaneously controls dozens of vertically integrated production enterprises and owner. Seller, wholesaler, retailer and importer at the same time.

All decisions of the Uzbek government relating to the automotive industry, in particular the directives relating to customs and notary restrictions, express the wishes, interests and objectives of Uzavtosanoat. As a result, these bureaucratic hurdles and inconsistent application of regulations create problems for any business seeking to enter and operate in the Uzbek market.

The conundrum of EV imports

The global promotion of electric vehicles, driven by environmental concerns and technological advances, creates both opportunities and challenges for Uzbekistan. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Uzbekistan has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable development. Encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles is consistent with these goals and could propel Uzbekistan into regional leadership in green transportation.

However, by July 1, new regulations of car import proposed by Uzavtosanoat will come into effect in Uzbekistan to implement BYD’s requirements to regulate imports of BYD-branded electric and hybrid vehicles. These rules are expected to impose administrative restrictions on unrestricted imports of BYD electric cars. This unexpected turn in policy may lead to the emergence of a new monopolist or even a group of monopolies in Uzbekistan’s electric and hybrid car market, rather than promoting market openness as originally envisioned.

Recently, Entrepreneurs selling electric cars in Uzbekistan have appealed to the head of state, saying that more than 400 companies that have opened showrooms and service stations for electric vehicles will sell 21,000 vehicles worth $630 million in 2023. However, high import duties and taxes significantly increase the cost of electric vehicles, making them less affordable for consumers. As a result, the lack of a comprehensive regulatory framework for EVs creates uncertainty for importers and potential investors.

Learning from International Expertise and Adopting Best Practices

To address the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in the electric vehicle (EV) market and attract foreign direct investment (FDI), Uzbekistan can learn from international best practices and incorporate them into its legislation and reforms. By learning from successful strategies employed by other countries, Uzbekistan can create a more favorable business environment and promote the growth of the electric vehicle sector. To learn from international practices, Uzbekistan can draw valuable lessons from Turkey’s experience in promoting the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Turkey’s proactive approach to developing a thriving electric vehicle market can serve as a model for Uzbekistan’s efforts to transition to sustainable transportation.

Key success stories from Turkey that Uzbekistan can consider implementing include:

1. Turkey is implementing various incentive programs to encourage EV adoption, including EV purchase subsidies, tax incentives, and reduced registration fees.

2. Turkey prioritizes the development of EV charging infrastructure, with a focus on expanding charging networks in urban areas, along highways, and in public spaces.

3. Turkey supports the growth of the domestic EV industry through research and development grants, investment incentives and cooperation with EV manufacturers. Uzbekistan can provide similar support to local manufacturers and startups to encourage the development of its own technologies and production facilities.

To effectively learn from Turkey’s experience, Uzbekistan should:

– Uzbekistan should develop a comprehensive EV development strategy that outlines clear goals, objectives and action plans to stimulate EV adoption and infrastructure development.

– Uzbekistan should adopt supportive policies and regulations to create a favorable environment for EV producers, investors and consumers. This could include setting emission standards, providing incentives for EV production, and simplifying EV registration and licensing processes.

– Uzbekistan can facilitate cooperation between government agencies, private sector stakeholders, academia and international partners to stimulate innovation, share best practices and accelerate the growth of the EV ecosystem.

By leveraging Turkey’s experience and adopting its successful strategies, Uzbekistan can position itself as a regional leader in sustainable transportation, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and mitigate environmental impacts, fostering economic growth and innovation in the EV sector.

Another international best practice is to provide financial incentives and infrastructure support to encourage EV adoption. Countries like China, which is the world’s largest EV market, offer subsidies, tax breaks and other incentives to make EVs more affordable and attractive to consumers.

Some of the key practices in China include:

– The Chinese government provides generous subsidies for EV purchases, which can cover up to 60% of the cost of the vehicle.

– Electric vehicles are exempt from purchase taxes and enjoy favorable vehicle and vessel tax rates. These incentives are designed to encourage the adoption of EVs and promote the development of the EV market.

 – China has invested heavily in the development of charging infrastructure, with plans to install 4.8 million charging points by 2020.

Uzbekistan should consider providing financial incentives, such as subsidies and tax breaks, for the purchase of electric vehicles and investment in charging infrastructure. The government should set targets for the introduction of charging stations and support businesses investing in this area. By providing financial incentives and infrastructure support, Uzbekistan can make electric vehicles more affordable and convenient for consumers, promoting their wider adoption. This will also create opportunities for businesses in the EV sector, such as manufacturers, suppliers and service providers, contributing to economic growth and job creation.

Ensuring a level playing field and fair competition

To develop a free market and protect the interests of entrepreneurs, it is necessary to ensure a level playing field and fair competition in the EV sector. Uzbekistan should review existing policies and regulations to identify and remove any barriers to market entry or unfair advantages given to state-owned enterprises or foreign companies. The government should strengthen competition law by addressing concerns related to potential monopolistic practices in the electric vehicle (EV) sector by closely monitoring the activities of companies such as BYD Uzbekistan Factory and BYD Central Asia, which manufacture and import electric vehicles and hybrids, respectively, and their actions could significantly affect market dynamics.


By studying international experience and adopting best practices, Uzbekistan can create more favorable conditions for the development of the electric vehicle sector and protect the interests of entrepreneurs. Establishing a clear and consistent regulatory framework with the authority to investigate complaints, enforce regulations and promote fair competition in the electric vehicle market. At the same time, the government should lean towards providing financial incentives and infrastructure support, encouraging PPPs and FDI, and ensuring a level playing field and fair competition are key steps in this direction.

Cite as:  Abdulaziz Janturaev, “Charging Forward: Assessing Market Freedom and Electric Vehicle Import Challenges in Uzbekistan”, Uzbekistan Law Blog, 16.05.2024.