Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a comprehensive strategic partnership with the ministry for foreign economic relations, investments and trade of Uzbekistan upon the occasion of Prime Minister Koizumi’s visit to Uzbekistan.

The objective of the MOU is to support an increase in uranium-related business with financing through an exchange of information on the country’s medium- and long-term strategy for uranium development, as well as on various financing facilities available at JBIC.

Uzbekistan has the world’s 10th largest proven uranium reserves. There are rising expectations for nuclear power generation as it helps curb global warming and is considered to be a key source of electric power for well into the future. In recent years, however, the price of uranium has increased sharply, raising concerns over a looming supply crunch. Amid these developments, JBIC will support the uranium-related business activities of Japanese firms in Central Asia through this MOU.

The Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy, Japan’s basic nuclear policy which was approved by a cabinet decision in October 2005, recognises the importance of securing a stable supply of natural uranium through the diversification of supply sources, long-term purchase contracts, and a develop-and-import scheme undertaken by Japanese firms. The recently prepared recommendations by the Advisory Committee for the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy also stressed the importance of a strategy for securing uranium resources.

A joint press statement following the Japan-Uzbekistan summit meeting held in August set forth that uranium development in and trade with Uzbekistan is a promising area for bilateral cooperation and both countries will promote an exchange of views and information between personnel in the public and private sectors. This MOU will serve to strengthen Japan’s relations with Uzbekistan in line with the governmental consultations from the bilateral summit.