5 September 2012, London: The GSMA recently issued a letter to Islam Karimov, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, to intercede on behalf of GSMA member MTS in a protracted trade dispute between MTS Uzbekistan and the government of Uzbekistan. The GSMA has published the letter in its entirety here.
Department of the Affairs of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan
5, Mustakillik Square
30th August 2012
Dear President Karimov
I am writing to ask for your intervention in a matter that, without your direct input, I fear risks damaging the reputation of your country. Under your leadership, Uzbekistan has made great strides in economic reform and has become an attractive market for foreign investors. However, I believe this position may be at risk due to your government’s protracted dispute with the mobile phone operator, MTS Uzbekistan.
The GSMA represents the interests of more than 800 mobile phone operators around the world, which invest over $300bn annually, across 200 countries and their employees. Our organization collaborates closely with industry, governments and major international organizations, such as the World Bank and the International Telecommunications Union, to promote the open and fair treatment of investors and the spread of mobile communications infrastructure.
The dispute between your government and MTS-Uzbekistan is attracting widespread international attention and is clearly one that could have long-term implications for investment in your country’s mobile market. First, the mobile communications industry is a lucrative source of potential foreign investment to Uzbekistan, and other providers may be hesitant to make investments after seeing what has happened to MTS-Uzbekistan. Second, when foreign investors consider markets for investment, the stability of the business environment, including the presence of a strong mobile communications infrastructure, is a fundamental criterion, as it supports the ease with which people can conduct daily business transactions. Recent actions have destabilized the mobile communications networks in Uzbekistan, and this may serve to be a deterrent for those companies seeking to do business there. Third, the detainment for extended periods of time, as well as allegations that detainees, all of whom are telecommunications professionals, are denied basic rights, makes it difficult for any business to consider investment given the responsibilities businesses have for the safety and well-being of their employees.
For these reasons, I would respectfully ask you to consider intervening personally in this dispute, to review the situation and consider whether the treatment of MTS-Uzbekistan has been reasonable and in accordance with basic rule of law standards.
In this regard, I would like to offer you any support you feel the GSMA might be able to provide and my personal input to your deliberations, if you believe this would be of value.
About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with more than 230 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.
GSMA Press Office