A WTO Secretariat team, led by Deputy Director General Zhang Xiangchen, visited Tashkent from 26 to 30 October for a series of meetings concerning Uzbekistan’s bid for WTO membership.
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High level discussions were held with Sardor Umurzakov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Investment and Foreign Trade, and Badriddin Abidov, Deputy Minister of Investment and Foreign Trade and Chief Negotiator for WTO Accession, to review the state of play and next steps in Uzbekistan’s WTO accession process. The team also took part in two round tables with the business community and academia.
DDG Zhang commended the Uzbek Government for pursuing an ambitious domestic reform agenda and its efforts to use the accession process as part of its development strategy. He compared the WTO accession process to a philosopher's stone which could be turned into gold if used properly for modernising the economy.
Uzbekistan's accession process enjoys broad support from the international community and all elements are now in place to hold the next cycle of Working Party meetings envisaged for mid December, added DDG Zhang.
Mr. Umurzakov reiterated his Government's firm commitment to WTO accession, which continues to be an absolute policy priority and an integral part of the wide ranging reform agenda set by President elect Shavkat Mirziyovev. WTO accession will be specifically mainstreamed into the Government's upcoming 2022 2026 strategy in an effort to accelerate accession negotiations.
The Uzbek authorities stressed their determination to create the most favourable conditions for trade and investment, with a view to further integrating the "new Uzbekistan" into the global economy and addressing transport and connectivity bottlenecks exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic. Mr. Umurzakov also noted that Uzbekistan remains a firm believer in the multilateral trading system and looks forward to a successful 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12).
Productive discussions were held with Uzbekistan's negotiating team led by Mr. Abidov on a wide range of accession issues, including process and documentation.
The negotiating team comprised representatives of ministries and state agencies, including the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance, the State Customs Committee, the Agency for Technical Regulation, the State Committee on Veterinary and Livestock Development, the Agency for Plant Protection and Quarantine and the Intellectual Property Agency.
DDG Zhang noted that, while being a marathon in itself, WTO accession requires teamwork and collaboration between state bodies. He praised the Uzbek authorities for their commitment to fulfil this historical responsibility.
The Uzbek team affirmed its intention to accelerate the accession negotiations, including by making the most of consultations on the margins of MC12 in Geneva.
Uzbekistan's Working Party was established on 21 December 1994. The Working Party met for the fourth time in July 2020. ■