Currently, Uzbekistan exports primarily commodities to the Netherlands, such as base metals (valued at $11.52 million US) and wood products ($5.56 million). Its third- and fourth-largest exports to the Netherlands include vegetables (~$680,600) and fruits ($466,900). It is consequently in the agricultural sector where trade opportunities can be readily identified, for two reasons: Uzbekistan is focusing its diversification efforts on an export-driven agricultural sector, and one of the limiting factors in achieving this is smallholder farmers limited in access to land and water. The Netherlands’ is the world’s second largest agricultural exporter, and in addition is a world leader in water management.
As for overlap between the two countries, both are producers of milk, potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots/turnips. Both countries have major agricultural industries, although Uzbekistan focuses on food processing whilst the Netherlands has a strong agro-industrial sector. As well, both have chemical industries. Uzbekistan desires to license technologies for oil refining and gas extraction, treatment, and processing. This is also an area where there are possibilities for trade between the Netherlands and Uzbekistan.
First, the Netherlands has a multitude of companies who are world leaders in water technologies. These can vary from sensors to track the soil moisture content, monitoring systems to anticipate rainfall, as well as irrigation. However, it should be considered to not just focus on irrigation. Rather, it should be explored how to use water technologies to reduce the need for external water. This would be beneficial for Uzbekistan in order to guarantee water security, especially with the opening of Tajikistan’s Rogun hydropower plant. Furthermore, a focus on sensor and water tracking would also help in tackling the issue of the salinization of soil. This is an area where the Netherlands and Uzbekistan could increase trade. The Netherlands is an export market for Uzbekistan and can help it increase production.
Another specific agricultural industry where the Netherlands and Uzbekistan could cooperate is in poultry farming. The Netherlands has a highly advanced poultry industry and could help Uzbekistan in establishing a modern, industrial poultry sector. The Netherlands’ expertise in agro-industrial business could be used to further develop Uzbekistan’s food processing sector. This is not limited to poultry, but also in its diary sector and in the cultivation of a larger volume of fruits and vegetables by using new technologies.
Hydrocarbon sector and (petro)chemicals
As for oil refining, Uzbekistan has the desire to modernize existing refineries to meet current European quality standards for its products. The Netherlands is a net importer of oil, but is home to Europe’s largest refinery: BP Rotterdam Refinery. Hence, a partnership could be fruitful as Netherlands is an end market for oil whilst possessing the technological know-how to upgrade and expand refineries.