On May 15, 2019, Uzbekistan president Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a decree designating the entire region of Navoi a free economic zone, according to the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The first free economic zone (FEZ) was set up in the Karomin district of the Navoi region in 2008, but after the enactment of the presidential decree in May 2019, the FEZ has been expanded to cover the entire Navoi region until January 2030, with the possibility of further extension.

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The decree lists its main goals as developing transport and other infrastructure in the region to make the free zone a major logistics centre, and to attract FDI to create hi-tech, export-oriented products and enterprises with high added-value. The decree-approved roadmap states that more than $8m will be spent on infrastructure development.

Navoi is Uzbekistan's largest region. Located in the centre of the country, it contains large reserves of precious metals, tungsten, phosphorites and other minerals. As well as being crucial to the mining, chemical and energy industries, it is also home to the largest air cargo terminal in central Asia, Navoi International Airport.