Next milestone in Uzbekistan’s journey to join the WTO

20.11.2023 417

A 42-strong delegation headed by Uzbekistan’s recently-appointed chief negotiator, Mr. Azizbek Urunov, traveled to Geneva for the 7th Working Party Meeting (WPM) at the World Trade Organization on 16 November 2023.

It was the second such meeting this year to advance Uzbekistan’s accession – testimony to renewed momentum as the country doubles down on its commitment to join the multilateral trading system established under the WTO. The 6th WPM was held in March 2023.

The WPMs are key signposts in the journey to WTO accession. At these meetings acceding countries negotiate the terms of their trade policy regime on which they will join the WTO. This multilateral track of negotiations is backed by the meetings taking place at the bilateral level to negotiate the level of market access openness.  

The market access schedules of commitments will fix the conditions for imported goods and foreign services supplied into Uzbekistan’s market. In this manner transparent and predictable market conditions are created. This helps boost confidence and trust in a country’s economic environment. In turn, this can help improve trade and investment flows to boost growth and development.

ITC helped prepare negotiators

The ITC propped up preparations ahead of the 7th WPM. It helped prepare answers to the questions raised by WTO Members at the previous WPM. This formed the basis for the agenda of the latest WPM. The ITC also facilitated the participation of several officials of Uzbekistan’s delegation in the multilateral and bilateral negotiation rounds and sponsored Russian interpretation that was requested for the WPM.

The delegation’s visit to Geneva gave opportunity for Mr. Urunov to meet with Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, the ITC’s Executive Director, after the WPM. They discussed Uzbekistan’s future support needs. The ITC aids Uzbekistan’s accession process with an array of technical and capacity-building activities. This is funded by the European Union under the project Facilitating the process of Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO.

The ITC also buttressed the technical expertise of Uzbekistan’s negotiation team ahead of the meeting. Two experts traveled to Tashkent in October to help prepare the negotiators for the market access negotiations, both in goods and services. This equipped the team to shoulder this crucial component of the negotiations.

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