24 Jul 2019 15:43

Uzbekistan begins talks on joining WTO

TASHKENT. July 24 (Interfax) - Uzbekistan's authorities have begun talks on joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"On July 23, 2019, Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva, Ulugbek Lapasov, met with the WTO Director-General, Roberto Azevedo. At the meeting, views were exchanged on prospects for bilateral cooperation between Uzbekistan and the WTO," the statement reads.

"Roberto Azevedo was [given] the updated Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which, according to the head of the organization, marks the beginning of the official negotiation process of the country's accession to the WTO. It was emphasized that for the first time in 15 years, Uzbekistan has prepared an official document for submission to WTO members, which will become a good basis for the entire negotiation process," it reads.

"The Director-General also expressed full support for intensification by Uzbekistan of the accession process to the WTO and noted that large-scale reforms implemented under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev are a key factor for further development of the country's foreign policy and foreign economic relations, as well as bringing normative-legal acts in accordance with the norms and regulations of the organization's agreements," the statement reads.

"Roberto Azevedo assured that representatives of the Secretariat will provide all necessary assistance and support to Uzbekistan in this process, including the successful holding of the next meeting of the Working Group on Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO in 2019," it reads.

Uzbekistan gained observer status upon the adoption of the WTO General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in June 1994, and an interdepartmental committee for Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO was set up in 1998. This working group failed to meet regularly in subsequent years, and its meetings with international experts were suspended in the mid-2000s. Uzbekistan is now applying to join the WTO as an observer state.