Wednesday, 17, July, 2024

Deputy PM/Chair of the Inter-Agency Commission on WTO Accession, Jamshid Khodjaev led the delegation, which also included Azizbek Urunov, Special Representative of the President on WTO issues and Chief Negotiator for WTO accession, Ahadbek Khaydarov, Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance, Alisher Karimov, Deputy Minister of Justice, and Akmaljon Kosimov, Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Officials from a range of ministries and agencies also joined the delegation in Geneva.

“Uzbekistan remains steadfast in its commitment to joining the World Trade Organization, and we are diligently exerting every possible effort to make meaningful progress,” said Deputy PM Khodjaev, with the view to joining the WTO by the 14th Ministerial Conference in Cameroon in 2026. In his statement, Jamshid Khodjaev called upon the delegates to “invest in and support” the accession process, noting that their “collaboration, expertise, and assistance” were crucial in ensuring the successful conclusion of the accession negotiations.

The Chair of the Working Party, Ambassador Yun Seong-deok of the Republic of Korea, noted the accelerated pace of the negotiations. “Today, we are meeting just six months after our seventh meeting. A shorter interval between Working Party meetings is a clear indication that our work is advancing at a faster pace. I trust that this is a result of the institutional changes introduced last year to strengthen the management and coordination of the accession process,” he remarked. Uzbekistan's accession process formally resumed with the fourth Working Party meeting in July 2020, after which three more meetings took place in June 2022March 2023 and November 2023.

Ambassador Yun commended Uzbekistan's progress on the negotiations and noted that the accession process had advanced to a new stage. Ambassador Yun reported that an informal meeting on Uzbekistan's agriculture support was held on 23 May. Uzbekistan has signed four bilateral agreements, with the Dominican Republic, Israel, Japan and Uruguay. Since the seventh Working Party meeting, it has actively engaged in bilateral negotiations with 33 members.

The Working Party discussed various aspects of Uzbekistan's foreign trade regime based on the Elements of a Draft Report of the Working Party and other supporting documentation and called upon Uzbekistan to undertake additional commitments. Members highlighted the significance of Uzbekistan's accession for the multilateral trading system and their foreign trade policies. Representatives from the International Monetary Fund, the International Trade Centre and the World Bank also participated at the meeting.

Karimov, Deputy Minister of Justice, noted that, since the seventh meeting, Uzbekistan had adopted several legal acts to align its trade regime with WTO rules in various areas, including on state duties for company registration, intellectual property rights, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and customs valuation. Uzbekistan also circulated a revised Legislative Action Plan and submitted draft and adopted legislation for members' review.

Next steps

In his assessment of the meeting, Ambassador Yun said, “the tone of engagement on both bilateral and multilateral tracks has improved substantially,” and thanked Uzbekistan and members for a highly productive meeting.

Going forward, Uzbekistan and members were encouraged to build on the achievements attained so far and conclude market access agreements. Members were requested to submit questions, comments and proposals for draft commitments by 21 June 2024. In addition to providing replies, Uzbekistan was also asked to submit supporting documents.

A specific date for the next Working Party meeting will be announced once all the required negotiating inputs have been submitted.

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