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Uzbek Minister: Uzbekistan's accession to WTO may take years

www.azernews.az
14 March 2018

Uzbekistan has seriously taken up the issue of accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). In this regard, the country is implementing a number of measures, podrobno.uz reported.

In particular, not only international experts and domestic ministries and agencies are involved in this process, but also working groups and interdepartmental commissions on risk assessment, readiness of economic sectors and adaptation of local legislation to join the organization have been set up.

Today, the WTO covers more than 94 percent of the total volume of commodity flows. Thus, joining this organization is one of the priorities of Uzbekistan's foreign economic policy. This issue is considered as one of the key factors to improve the country's international image.

The procedure for joining the WTO consists of several stages and, as the experience of the newly acceding countries shows, this is a long process that can take several years, according to Uzbek Minister of Foreign Trade Jamshid Khodzhaev.

"This is the so-called transitional preparatory period, which Uzbekistan maximally uses to analyze and assess the consequences of membership in the organization, pros and possible risks, as well as other preventive measures," he said.

In order to avoid negative consequences from Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO, this process is planned to be implemented on the basis of a comprehensive assessment of the readiness of certain sectors of the economy, various groups of domestic commodity producers and the conformity of the state regulation mechanisms used, according to the minister.

He also emphasized that it is planned to implement measures to increase the competitiveness of domestic enterprises on the basis of updating their technical and technological potentials, to activate state support of scientific and technical developments and their introduction into production. In the process of accession, the state should also agree with the Working Group of the interested member countries of the WTO on the terms of their membership in the main areas.

"For example, access to the market for goods and services, the size of subsidies in agriculture, government support measures, trade aspects of intellectual property rights protection, etc. It is important to develop a thoughtful and carefully verified entry strategy so that the conditions of accession minimize the negative impact on national producers and sensitive sectors of the economy," Khodzhaev noted.

Moreover, these conditions should contribute to the development of the economy by increasing competition, improving the quality of products, introducing international standards, strengthening investment cooperation and expanding the export potential by accessing new markets, he believes.

To strengthen the country's position in the negotiation process on accession to the WTO and to ensure the protection of sensitive sectors of the economy, such as the textile, food, automotive and agriculture sectors, a draft decree of the President of Uzbekistan on adjusting customs duties rates is being developed. The Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Trade jointly work on the creation of the document.

In accordance with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's order of February 28 of this year "On organizational measures to further streamline Uzbekistan's foreign economic activity," a working group to improve the system of customs and tariff regulation and optimize customs payments in the implementation of foreign trade activities was established.

Also, in order to achieve effective systemic work and regularly monitor the process of Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO, the government approved a "road map", which includes 34 activities aimed at preparing documentation to resume the process of entering and adapting national legislation.

Another step of the country in this direction is the formed Interdepartmental Commission for Work with the WTO, headed by the Ministry of Foreign Trade. It included the heads of various ministries and departments of the country. At the same time, measures are being worked out to intensify the activities of the representative of Uzbekistan to the WTO in Geneva, whose work will be coordinated directly by the Ministry of Foreign Trade.

According to experts, the package of measures also implies institutional reforms, the development of an international legal framework on a bilateral and multilateral basis, the improvement of national legislation with further liberalization of the foreign trade regime and consistent harmonization with international norms and rules of the World Trade Organization.

It should be noted that in April 2018, within the framework of the memorandum and the road map signed in Seoul, Uzbekistan plans to hold a working meeting of the Uzbek-Korean Advisory Council on WTO Accession. During the meeting, the examination of the national legislation in the field of tariff and non-tariff regulation will be conducted to ensure compliance with WTO requirements.

There are 164 members of the World Trade Organization. That's 84 percent of the 196 countries in the world.

They enjoy the privileges that other member-countries give to them and the security that the trading rules provide. In return, they had to make commitments to open their markets and to abide by the rules - those commitments were the result of the membership (or "accession") negotiations.