Unplugging Tajikistan’s energy challenges
Stakeholders in Tajikistan’s energy sector are being trained in how they can benefit from the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and how to meet the challenges arising from membership of the organization.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) last autumn organized a training session in Dushanbe on ‘Making the most of WTO accession: Energy services commitments and liberalization’, bringing together, energy experts and representatives from government agencies, business associations and international organizations. While training was the main focus of the session, participants also discussed WTO rules and regulations applicable to the country’s commitments on energy services.
Participants heard that Tajikistan has the potential to become energy self-sufficient and position itself as a leading provider of electricity to the whole region. Still, experts argued that despite its potential, the country’s electricity sector is not competitive. There are a number of reasons for this, the main being a lack of or outdated infrastructure, as well as the existence of an inefficient public monopoly.
Liberalization and reforms
The training session examined the key characteristics of the sector, including how liberalization and pro-competitive reforms of energy-related services are commonly carried out. The main elements of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and its relevance to energy-related services and the scheduling system principle for energy-related services were also discussed, along with comparisons of commitments taken by other recently acceded countries in the field of energy services.
Tajikistan acceded to the WTO on 2 March 2013, after more than 11 years of negotiations. Throughout the WTO accession process, ITC, in conjunction with the Government of Switzerland through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), worked with Tajikistan by providing trade-related technical assistance, including for a number of infrastructure projects, private-sector development programmes and trade promotion projects.
In the years to come, ITC will continue its assistance to Tajikistan in the implementation of WTO provisions and other issues regarding the post-accession process. A number of public-private dialogues and training sessions on key trade-enabling infrastructure services areas, such as transport and telecommunications, have already been conducted this year in Tajikistan.
The training was organized under the ITC project called ‘Implementation of WTO provisions and business awareness of WTO Accession’, funded by SECO.