USAID increases its presence in Central Asia amid the COVID-19 pandemic to foster its influence

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is increasing investments and support of the economy and social sphere in Uzbekistan through various economic, trade, healthcare and social projects. Only for the year of 2019 USAID invested over $10 million in Uzbekistan’s private sector for establishment of new orchards, installation of water saving technologies marketing, and branding to meet international standards. According to the Agency, USAID investment strategy in Uzbekistan involves large-scale and ambitious projects for the next 3-4 years that aim to increase the living standard in the country.

As part of its global campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic, the USAID in partnership with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Health has identified priority areas to provide support for the needs of Uzbekistan’s citizens, health professionals, and the government.  

However, nurturing relations with the US may have a negative side effect for Uzbekistan. By tightening economic and political relations with Tashkent, the United States might take advantage of the Uzbekistan’s geopolitical location and its border with Afghanistan and start lobbying its interests in Kabul heating up complicated relations between the two countries.

Moreover, fostering the Washington’s idea to create a transparent economy in the country and the accountability of the Uzbek state to civil society may cause potential leaks of tax and financial information to the US tax authorities. Considering that the American side relies on the principle of the supremacy of the national law over the international law, this might trigger a threat to the economic security of Uzbekistan and create a ground for pressure on the Uzbekistan authorities by the United States.

Like in the case with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, a small country in the Central, could become a perfect potential target for the US so-called democratization policy. Positive social and economic changes integrated by the United States in Uzbekistan are building up a solid ground for lobbying Washington political ambitions in the country. History has already proved the United States could be unreliable business partners. The US-China trade relations scenario is a great example of it: when contradictions arose, the US changed their policy from building partnership into the policy of trade wars.