2 Nov 2023 14:50

France willing to back Uzbekistan's efforts to join WTO - Uzbek presidential press service

TASHKENT. Nov 2 (Interfax) - French President Emmanuel Macron has voiced support for Uzbekistan's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) at talks with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Uzbek presidential press service said.

"France has expressed its willingness to continue supporting Uzbekistan's efforts towards building confidence in Central Asia, as well as our country's accession to the WTO and the soonest possible signing of an agreement on enhanced partnership and cooperation with the European Union," it said.

Mirziyoyev and Macron discussed ways to further step up cooperation, and agreed to bring bilateral relations to the level of a strategic partnership, it said.

Uzbekistan and France have been actively developing their relations in all areas over the past few years, their trade and the number of joint ventures have grown several times, and the portfolio of active and potential investment projects has topped 10 billion euros, it said. Uzbekistan is implementing a 1-billion-euro strategic cooperation program with the French Development Agency, it said.

Mirziyoyev named extracting industries, the processing of strategic mineral resources, and the energy sector as priority areas of cooperation with French companies, it said.

"As priority areas of cooperation, our head of state mentioned the extracting industry, the processing of strategic mineral resources, the construction of hybrid, solar, and wind power plants, the upgrading of water supply systems, the introduction of smart farming methods, the development of urban and transport infrastructure, and tourism," the press service said.

The Uzbek-French negotiations in an expanded format discussed promoting business partnership, it said. In particular, the launch of an Uzbek-French Chamber of Commerce and plans to open a Business France office in Tashkent were announced at the talks, it said.

Macron arrived in Samarkand on Wednesday for an official visit to Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan was granted observer status in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, a WTO predecessor, in June 1994 and set up a working group to negotiate accession to the WTO in 1998, which it later suspended. The country resumed efforts to join the WTO in 2017. Uzbekistan submitted a revised Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime to the WTO in July 2019 for its accession application to be considered. Uzbekistan expects to be granted special privileges as a developing economy after it joins the WTO.