TASHKENT (TCA) — To support Uzbekistan’s renewed determination to join into the international trading system, the International Trade Centre (ITC) is implementing a new European Union’s project ‘Facilitating the process of Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO’, which has been officially launched on November 10 during a high-level online event, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan. The project, which already started in February 2020, aims to support Uzbekistan's development plans to modernize its economy by leveraging its World Trade Organization (WTO) accession process, the Delegation of the European Union to Uzbekistan reported.
Acceding to the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a full-fledged member is key in integrating beneficially into the global economy. Uzbekistan has been on this long and winding road on and off for many years, but this endeavour has recently gained a new momentum with the broad package of socio-economic reforms and transformation aimed at trade liberalization and modernization of the domestic trade regime instilled since 2016.
To reach its objectives, the project will focus on:
- Supporting the Uzbek government to develop its negotiating positions and draft the mandatory documents as required by the WTO accession process.
- Assisting the executive and legislative branches to develop specific sectoral laws and regulations as needed to comply with Uzbekistan’s new international commitments.
- Reinforcing the policymakers' understanding of the WTO accession process and its legal framework.
- Increasing Uzbekistan’s capacity to comply with WTO Rules, in particular with regards to the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Trade Facilitation (TF) Agreements of the WTO.
- Enhancing the business sector’s — including women's associations — awareness of the WTO accession process and benefits.
Uzbekistan will thus benefit from ITC’s long-standing experience in assisting least developed and developing countries in their WTO accession process through a wide range of technical assistance services. Samoa, Yemen, Lao PDR, Comoros, Liberia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Ethiopia are all among the beneficiaries of ITC’s assistance on their respective path to WTO membership. ITC has also been running various projects to assist countries to face their post-accession challenges, as in Afghanistan for example.
Throughout this 5-year venture, ITC will work hand in hand with the EU Delegation in Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade (MIFT) of Uzbekistan. The project has already gotten off to a strong start, as it has contributed to gather support from WTO members in carrying out the 4th Working Party on the accession of Uzbekistan to the WTO, which took place in July 2020 after almost fifteen years of standstill in the negotiations. This milestone event has marked Uzbekistan’s return to the negotiating table and its government’s dedication and efforts made towards joining the WTO membership.
“WTO accession is an absolute priority. We consider this process as an integral part of ongoing reforms aimed at further integration of Uzbekistan into the world economic community and the multilateral trading system. Considering this, we express our gratitude to the European Union for the support of our country's aspirations to become a member of the WTO and providing technical assistance in this process,” said Mr. Badriddin Abidov, Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade (MIFT), Chief Negotiator on Uzbekistan’s Accession to the WTO.
“Uzbekistan’s economic and social development requires capital and know-how, and direct investment is important for obtaining both. Joining the World Trade Organization is a means to reassure investors that Uzbekistan plays by the common rules and we expect increased interest of the European investors when those rules are in force,” said Mr. Jussi Närvi, Chargé d’Affaires, from the Delegation of the European Union to Uzbekistan.
“This new project sends a clear signal that the government of Uzbekistan is fully committed to reforming their domestic policies and mechanisms to support its accession to the WTO. ITC is pleased to work with policy makers and the business community to build a more inclusive and sustainable economic future for the country through trade,” said Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of ITC and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.