By Kamila Aliyeva
The European Union (EU) intends to allocate 5 million euros to Uzbekistan to assist the country's joining the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The agreement was reached during the 13th meeting of the Subcommittee on Economy, Trade and Investment and the 15th meeting of the Uzbekistan-EU Cooperation Committee, which took place recently in Brussels, Belgium, Uzbek media outlets reported.
“As a result of the discussions the sides reached agreements on signing financial deals on grant projects “Sustainable management of water resources in the Fergana Valley” in the amount of 30 million euros and “Development of the livestock sector” in the amount of 15 million euros. In addition, preparation of projects for which the EU intends to allocate 5 million euros to assist the process of Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO will be completed before the year-end,” the Uzbek State Committee for Investments said.
The parties also agreed upon the allocation of 5 million euros from the EU side for the “Development of employment skills in rural areas” project, and granting 40 million euros to support the state budget expenditures in early 2019.
The EU assistance program for Uzbekistan covers 2014-2020 and has a total budget of 168 million euros. To date, 25 projects have been implemented in Uzbekistan for a total amount of more than 100 million euros with EU assistance. As many as 15 national projects totaling 69.4 million euros cover the areas of economic and social development, education, water management and waste management, improving living conditions in rural areas, supporting entrepreneurship in remote areas and developing tourism.
In addition, Uzbekistan receives EU assistance under 10 regional projects for a total of 33.6 million euros in education (Erasmus +), business and tourism development and other areas.
Uzbekistan applied for membership in the World Trade Organization in 1994. To date, there have been three meetings of a working group consisting of members of the organization. The latest one was held in 2005. Since then, the process of Uzbekistan's accession has been passive and official authorities have not interacted with WTO members.
During the trip to South Korea last year, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev announced the resumption of work on Uzbekistan's accession to the organization. In this process, the United States and South Korea should help the republic.
Thus, Uzbekistan and Korea have already signed a special “road map” on this issue. The Korean side will help Uzbekistan by assessing the consequences of joining the organization, examining the national legislation in accordance with the requirements of the WTO agreements. The United States will also provide the necessary technical assistance in this process, including development of the necessary documents for submission to the WTO, holding of seminars and conferences.
To date, Uzbekistan participates in the work of the organization as an observer state. The chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan, Adham Ikramov, noted in mid-May that Uzbekistan intends to join the WTO in 4-5 years.
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 need to make commitments to open their markets and to abide by the rules — those commitments were the result of the membership (or “accession”) negotiations.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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