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Uzbekistan: Investors Await Reforms

Washington, 28 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) President Ruth Harkin says American firms with more than $500 million to invest are interested in Uzbekistan. But she says the firms won't risk their money until economic reforms, including full currency convertibility, are adopted.

Harkin, who is in Tashkent, said the $500 million figure is from U.S. businesses which have registered potential projects with OPIC, an independent U.S. government agency which insures and provides some financing for American investment abroad.

Uzbekistan has put limits on the exchange of foreign currencies, an action that caused the International Monetary Fund in December to suspend its loan program there.

In Uzbekistan, Harkin did announce a new political risk insurance policy sold to the Zarafshan-Newmont gold recovery project 480 kilometers west of Tashkent in the Navoi region. The insurance covers a recent $40 million capital injection into the project by the U.S. partner.