Expertise on standards finetuned for Uzbekistan’s WTO accession

03.11.2023 357

A niche workshop series for technicians helped build crucial knowledge to adopt international standards.

International standards are an important signpost for global traders. Set by relevant international bodies, they ensure the safety and quality of products and help advance more efficient and cost-effective practices.

The more international standards are used and recognized globally, the more they help reduce the burden of unnecessary cross-border regulations. Moreover, if a country follows them, its producers can trade on global markets.

In the area of technical regulations, WTO Members are committed to comply with the rules and requirements under the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement. This means when Uzbekistan becomes a WTO Member it effectively has to comply with global technical standards.

Specialized workshop series

The ITC held a workshop series between July and October 2023 to develop the technical know how of relevant agencies in Uzbekistan dealing with such matters. Five modules were offered, covering key aspects in the field.

Different international standards and their scope of application were under scrutiny in the first module, followed by a module on the benefits of standards and how they can advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The third module was dedicated to the European standardization system, as the EU is an important trading partner of Uzbekistan.

The fourth module unpacked the process of adopting international standards. And the last module treated good practices in developing standards, and the financing of national standards bodies.

The latter are agencies that develop national standards. As WTO Members are expected to 'play a full part, within the limits of their resources' in standard setting processes by international standardizing bodies, national standards bodies help ensure a country’s compliance with this requirement.

However, the legal status of these bodies can vary from state-owned to fully private. This means their revenue models also vary. Using case studies, the last leg of the training unpacked the financing models of national standards bodies and explained intellectual property rights related to standards.

Participants also came to grips with the six principles that guide the development of international standards and were introduced to the WTO ISO Standards Information Gateway. The latter is a list of all standardizing bodies party to the TBT Agreement’s Code of Good Conduct, and with information on their work programmes.

Just under 300 technicians attended the various modules of the workshop series, with some attending multiple modules. The results of pre- and post-workshop assessments for participants who took them showed an 84% improvement in their knowledge about the adoption of international standards.

Technical agencies across the spectrum benefited from the training, including the Agency for Technical Regulation, the Institute of Standards and the National Institute of Metrology. University professors of relevant departments also had opportunity to attend.

The workshop series was funded by the European Union under its project Facilitating the process of Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO.

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