Supporting Uzbekistan: Modernization of the Economy and Accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO)
COVID-19 could not stand in the way of a series of webinars for sharing technical expertise to facilitate the process of Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO, taking place since April 2020.
These information and knowledge sharing training sessions were conducted to ensure that national legislation complies with WTO principles and related best practices.
During sessions on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) related issues, participants familiarized themselves with internationally accepted rules and principles on standards, technical regulations, certifications, testing and inspection and enforcement of laws. Experts from the International Trade Centre (ITC) also explained International Organization for Standardization (ISO) good standardization practices and the difference between voluntary standard and mandatory technical regulations approaches. Uzstandard, the Ministry of Health, the State Veterinary Committee, and the State Plant Quarantine Inspection are on board for discussions around TBT and SPS matters.
These evidence based working sessions come at a time when draft documents for standardization, technical regulation, certification of products and services, assessment laws and their conformity with WTO rules and regulations, and international best practices are being discussed and elaborated.
Guidelines on setting up and operationalizing the national enquiry points and notification function and a national committee for coordination are in preparation. A follow up interactive webinar sessions will take place in August 2020.
For Intellectual Property Rights, ITC will continue assisting Uzbekistan in reviewing its national legislation and ensuring its consistency with WTO rules and international intellectual property conventions.
Uzbekistan’s Accession to the WTO
These initiatives support Uzbekistan resumed efforts to accede to the WTO. The process had been initiated back in 1994, but was frozen in 2005. The country filed its formal application for accession to the WTO in March 2018. This was followed by updating the Memorandum of Foreign Trade Regime in July 2019 – a comprehensive document reflecting key facts about the country’s trade and regulatory regime.
In order to resume the Working Party (WP) process on accession to WTO, Uzbekistan has submitted a number of required documents, including initial offers on goods and services. Benefitting from ITC’s technical advisories, on July 7 2020, the country`s Fourth Working Party Meeting on Accession to the WTO took place after fifteen years of standstill in the negotiations.
The ambition of Uzbekistan to become a fully-fledged WTO member is supported by ITC through an EU funded five-year project, that aims to assist Uzbekistan’s development plans to modernize the economy and to facilitate the creation in Uzbekistan of a trading regime in conformity with the WTO rules.