On November 5, 2018, the President of Uzbekistan signed a Resolution contemplating the establishment of the Tashkent International Arbitration Center (TIAC) under the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan (the Chamber). The primary goal of the TIAC is the promotion of ICA and ADR methods as well as the improvement of the investment climate in the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Notably, the Resolution provides the TIAC with many exclusive incentives, powers and reliefs, whereas nothing is mentioned about whether other arbitral institutions would be able to enjoy the same privileges.
In particular, the Resolution provides that:
- National courts shall assist the TIAC in administering the arbitration proceedings by way of obtaining and collecting evidence as well as enforcing the interim measures to ensure the execution of arbitrators' decisions within their competence and in the manner prescribed by law.
- Foreign TIAC arbitrators are exempt from income tax, while local arbitrators are not.
- No work permits are required for foreign arbitrators and experts to serve the case administered by the TIAC.
- Parties' representatives in cases administered by the TIAC who perform their duties in national courts at the set-aside and/or enforcement procedure are not required to be qualified Uzbek lawyers.
- Parties' expenses for administration fees are exempt from VAT (only for cases administered by the TIAC).
- TIAC will be allocated separate premises, receive telecom facilities and high-speed internet at low tariffs as well as granted customs relief.
The Resolution grants the TIAC broad powers, reliefs and other incentives to stimulate its activity to make it an internationally recognized and competitive regional arbitration center. Although the efforts and aspirations to revive the arbitration in Uzbekistan should be welcomed, it is hoped that potential clients will not perceive the above-mentioned benefits as a risk to institutional and financial independence.
Even though some of the Resolution's provisions are subject to further academic and practitioners' discussion, we can infer that Uzbek decision makers understand the vital role of national courts in assisting the international commercial arbitration. With this in mind, we hope that the procedure of interaction of national courts and international arbitral tribunals will be elaborated in the Economic Procedural Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The Resolution expressly states that IP and blockchain disputes are arbitrable in the TIAC, which demonstrates a liberal approach of Uzbekistan to the issue of arbitrability.
In the final analysis, we can conclude that the growing interest of foreign business entities to deal with Uzbek counterparties necessitates the establishment of a permanent arbitration court, which will further facilitate cross-border transactions and boost economic activity in Uzbekistan.
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