The process of Uzbekistan’s WTO accession was initiated in 1994, but was frozen in 2005, due to the self-sufficiency policy that was instituted during this time. Fast forward to 2016, where shortly after his election, President Mirziyoyev initiated a broad package of socio-economic reforms and transformation aimed at trade liberalization and modernization of domestic trade regime. Following these reforms, the process of accession to the WTO was renewed through a formal application to the WTO Secretariat signed by the Minister of Foreign Trade in March 2018. In July 2019, Uzbekistan circulated its updated Memorandum of Foreign Trade Regime (MFTR) to the WTO members, as well as later on a number of other required WTO accession documents, including initial market access offers on goods and services. The progress made by Uzbekistan resulted in the support by WTO members in carrying out the 4th Working Party on the accession of Uzbekistan to the WTO, which took place on July 7th, 2020 after almost fifteen years of standstill in the negotiations. This milestone event has marked Uzbekistan’s return to the negotiating table and its government’s dedication and efforts made towards joining the WTO membership. The 5th Working Party meeting took place on 21 June 2022. Participants of the event positively assessed the results of activities carried out by the Inter-Agency Commission of Uzbekistan on the WTO accession process, including the preparation of an expanded package of documents and conducting bilateral negotiations on market access. Following the 5th WPM, the 6th WPM took place on 14 March 2023. As was announced by Uzbekistan during the 6th WPM, bilateral negotiations on market access in goods have been finalized with three WTO Members. As a next step, Uzbekistan is encouraged to provide further negotiating inputs to allow the WTO Secretariat to upgrade the Factual Summary to the Working Party Report, which will be part of the accession commitments package.
The blue highlights are the phases that have been completed already
While the grey highlights indicate the phases that still need to be completed
Acceding to the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a full-fledged member is key in integrating beneficially into the international trading system and the global economy.
Accession is a policy decision to enter into the discipline of a rules-based, open and integrated trading system; it can impact a large number of areas of the economy. Being a WTO Member, or aspiring to be one, sends a clear signal to trade partners and investors about a country's commitment to an open economy, which encourages the increase in trade and inflow of foreign investment and technological know-how and lifts productivity.
By committing to a maximum level of tariff protection and eliminating quotas on imports, as required by the WTO, countries create a predictable and transparent framework which improves the business environment and promotes good governance. Similarly, the establishment of simplified rules on licensing, registration, and customs clearance can have a very positive effect on business. Becoming a member of the WTO brings greater security and predictability of access to the markets of other WTO Members, as well as protection for the private sector against harmful trade actions by other countries.
Undertaking the many obligations of WTO membership can also help strengthen a country’s trade-related institutions and streamline regulatory and institutional policies that can lead to significant reforms across law, and commerce.
Last but not least, accession also allows new Members the opportunity to safeguard their interests by participating actively in international trade negotiations and international rule-making.
While the benefits of acceding to the WTO are many, various challenges stem from the accession process itself: it is a long and complex negotiation process, involving wide-ranging legislative and executive actions by acceding countries, that requires extensive human resources and institutional capacities, including sectoral expertise. Many countries that request to accede face particular constraints throughout this process, such as a limited analytical capacity to support trade and impact analysis and/or a lack of resources to respond to information requests among other limitations.
Accession carries a number of obligations, including adjustment following the opening up of sectors of the economy to competition from other WTO Members as well as acceptance of procedures for the regulation of the services sector. Thus, implementation also poses challenges that have to be faced both by government and the private sector.