Providing timely and high-quality trade in services can play a key role in boosting the inclusive development of economies. This is precisely why the improvement of a country's services in compliance with the regulations of international agreements is one of the substantial prerequisites of accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
To further support Uzbekistan in its path to becoming a WTO member, the European Union's project 'Facilitating the process of Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO', implemented by ITC recently organized a set of working sessions specifically on trade in services related issues.
The "Working Sessions on Scheduling Commitments on Services under the WTO/GATS", held from the 17th to the 24th of November, involved a large number of participants from various backgrounds, including officials from the Ministries of Investments and Foreign Trade, of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, of Finance, of Transport, of Justice, of Energy, State Committees for Ecology and Environmental Protection, for Geology and Mineral Resources, from the State Tax Committee, from the Uzstandard Agency, from the Agency on Intellectual Property, as well as other key government agencies . The significant diversity in participation made the sessions even more impactful and the knowledge acquired even more sustainable for all.
Over the four days-seminar, participants gained a detailed understanding of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), its structure, scope and key concepts in scheduling WTO commitments as presented by ITC's experts. The concept of Environmental Services was also introduced, especially as it relates to the various modes of supply and types of services supplied by the government, e.g. solid waste management, water supply, wastewater management, laying pipelines, metering, air pollution management, hazardous waste management and so on. The specific WTO Classification of Services, particularly with regards to Central Product Classification was also presented through specific examples and case studies. At the end of each session, participants not only benefited from the discussions, but could also evaluate the level of the information they had acquired by taking short quizzes.
Mr. Abduhalikov, Chief Specialist of the State Committee for Ecology and Environment Protection of the Republic of Uzbekistan, emphasized the importance of holding such events "to improve the level of knowledge of specialists from the relevant departments", because the information they received during these sessions was new for them, while being crucial for Uzbekistan to accede to the WTO. He also noted: "the workshop was very useful to me in that I was finally able to get the answers to some important questions I have had for a long time."
These sessions are one of the many activities planned under the EU 'Facilitating the process of Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO' project, which aims to support Uzbekistan's development plans to modernize its economy by leveraging its WTO accession process.