Uzbekistan’s WTO Accession Process

The Project at A Glance

Given its small size and low levels of economic diversification, Uzbekistan’s economy relies significantly on international trade. In 2019, international trade accounted for 73% of the country’s ratio of foreign trade to GDP, much higher than the OECD average. In order to boost the country’s position and competitiveness in international markets, the Government of Uzbekistan has undertaken numerous initiatives including the initiation of processes to accede to the WTO.
International Economic Consulting Ltd., with funding from the Trade and Advocacy Fund (TAF2+), provided support to Uzbekistan’s National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC), which included the Office of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Investment and Trade (MIFT), in the country’s efforts towards its WTO accession.

What We Found

Uzbekistan originally applied for membership at the WTO in 1994, making it one of the longest accession processes in the WTO’s history. At the time of this report, four Working Party meetings had taken place, with a gap of 15 years between the 3rd and 4th meetings. This gap can be attributed to the switch in the economic policy of the country whereby liberalization reforms were reversed in favour of protectionist policies in foreign trade.
In recent years, the Government has demonstrated renewed energy and commitment to WTO the accession process. Mr Sardor Umurzakov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade (MIFT) of Uzbekistan, stated that accession to the WTO is ‘an absolute priority’ and ‘an integral part of the ongoing reforms aimed at further integration of Uzbekistan into the world economic community and the multilateral trading system.’
At the time of the project, Uzbekistan had presented its updated Memorandum of Foreign Trade, issued replies to the questions from the WTO Accession Party and prepared in cooperation with the WTO Secretariat Factual Summary of Points Raised.

Our Strategy and Impact

Our Team assisted the Uzbek National Trade Facilitation Committee in three main ways:

  1. Capacity Building and Seminars: The objective of this first component was to build the technical knowledge of the ministry officials involved with trade and with the WTO Accession, in particular.
  2. Analytical Research and Position Papers: This component covered the technical support for negotiations. The team provided three key technical papers around the areas of interest to the Uzbek Government in order to support the negotiating team and enable them to negotiate and defend their positions before third countries and coalitions at the WTO and fully understand the nature and consequences of their decisions in the negotiation room, and to strategise accordingly.
  3. Support to the Negotiating Team: In the third component, IEC provided hands-on support and advice to the negotiating team during the 5th Working Party at the WTO.

Our Core Solutions

With the rapid proliferation of trade agreements worldwide, there are new market and investment opportunities for countries to explore. We prepare clients to navigate trade and investment negotiations and advocate for their best interests. We also provide customised advocacy solutions for sustainable growth. From determining our clients’ specific requirements and interests to designing an effective strategy, we represent and advocate for our clients in various trade-related matters and facilitate coordination between different organisations.

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