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15 August 2012 / 12:39

Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) --  Almost 50 executives from the top US companies will take part in the upcoming 2012 Uzbekistan-US Annual Business Forum that will take place in Tashkent on 17 August, 2012 to concur with the Annual Bilateral Consultations between the governments of the United States and Uzbekistan, according to Carolyn Lamm, Chair of the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce (AUCC).

"In the upcoming forum, the two governments will meet to discuss their issues on the 16th of August in the annual business consultations and on the 17th, our companies will be there. I'm leading a delegation of almost 50 executives from the top US businesses, who will come together then with the officials from both sides to discuss our problems and our views," Lamm told Silk Road Newsline in an interview.

"The upcoming Forum will be, I think, a tremendous benefit to our members. We always open at the Forum by hearing from the leaders of the governments on both sides, from the Uzbek Government, from the US Government and then our members all speak and exchange their views on how their companies have developed business in Uzbekistan, exported products from Uzbekistan, which really enhances the bilateral commercial relationship," Lamm said adding that a new agreement between NUKEM Inc., one of the top providers of uranium to nuclear power plants worldwide, and Uzbekistan's state-owned Navoi Mining & Metallurgy Combinat (NMMC) may also be in the works.

"And I hear that we may even have a few very concrete contracts that may be signed coming out of the meetings at the Forum. So we have hopefully some enhanced business relationships and steps forward, including for potentially NUKEM with Navoi," she said.

Incorporated in Washington D.C., the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce (AUCC) seeks to promote trade and investment ties, cultural exchanges and bonds of friendship between the United States of America and the Republic of Uzbekistan. AUCC contributed to the early signing of a Bilateral Trade Agreement between the United States and the Republic of Uzbekistan and continues to advocate vigorously for the interests of US business in Uzbekistan.

"The Chamber has a very important role and we began in 1993, so we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary next year and we've had from the beginning some very successful investors in Uzbekistan among our members, including NUKEM, FMN Logistics, GE and GM and Lockheed and Boeing and Caterpillar, which is represented by Solar Turbines and Zeppelin International AG, and Case New Holland and we have a wide variety of the biggest US companies who have been very, very successful there both in terms of developing Uzbekistan, offering employment in Uzbekistan as well as enhancing their own business relationships," Lamm said.

The AUCC currently lists 17 major US companies as its members and Lamm says AUCC membership has increased since last fall when it hosted a very successful 2011 US-Uzbekistan Annual Business Forum in Washington which was attended by many US companies and senior representatives of the US Government.

"Since the last very successful forum, business is increasing and we've now increased with Lockheed, with McLarty Associates, with Indsur Stelcor, Inc. We really have increased our membership and our reach. Both Zeppelin and Solar Turbines have joined. So we really have enhanced membership. And we have many others who are kind of interested and as their businesses grow, they join," Lamm said.

Other AUCC members include The Boeing Company, Case New Holland, FMN Logistics, General Electric, General Motors, Harris Corporation, Honeywell, Nukem, Inc. Rio Tinto, Sikorsky and White & Case LLP.

"Uzbekistan really offers a wide variety of areas for US investors. There are many in the energy field of course, in the natural resource field. Uzbekistan is rich in natural resources, whether it's gold or uranium, gas and many precious metals, rare earths, molybdenum, aluminum. There are a wide variety of things that are very attractive. But also the labor force is well educated; the people are very bright and industrious. So there are many things with value added on the ground to the very basic materials that are of great interest to the US companies," Lamm said.

Ranked by The Washingtonian Magazine as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, Carolyn Lamm is one of the US top international business and trade lawyers who also served as president of the American Bar Association (2008-2010) and ABA Representative to the United Nations (2010 - 2011). Asked to comment on the future prospects of trade and investment between the US and Uzbekistan in the coming years, AUCC Chair says growth is expected in both areas.

"We believe that there will be, our companies believe that there will be, both because of the rich potential in Uzbekistan and because of the commitment of both governments. On the Uzbek side, to invite foreign investment and to facilitate foreign investment and on the US side, to do what they can to support it. Now, our organization has been arguing strongly because the Uzbeks have signed the bilateral investment treaty and the US has not yet ratified it. So we've been urging them very strongly, the US, on behalf of the American business interest and the Uzbek interest to get it signed and ratified in place," said Lamm.

The purpose of the 2012 US-Uzbekistan Annual Business Forum is to increase senior US and Uzbek Government officials' awareness of the importance to support US businesses in Uzbekistan and use it as a nexus for continuing bilateral cooperation. The idea of holding the 2012 US-Uzbekistan Annual Business Forum in parallel to the G2G Annual Bilateral Consultations is to provide AUCC members with an opportunity to outline their business plans before key US and Uzbek policy and decision-makers. Through the forum, AUCC hopes to reassure the Uzbek Government of the US private sector's commitment to the market and encourage both governments to cooperate closer on issues of trade and investments.