Uzbekistan and the World Trade Organization (WTO) on July 7, after an almost 15-year hiatus, resumed meetings of the joint working group on Uzbekistan's accession to WTO, the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade (MIFT) said in a statement. Because of the coronavirus, the meeting was held in a video conference format.
The working negotiations group on Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO was established in 1998. Afterwards, the working group met three times, the last time in October 2005. In February, the Foreign Ministry expected that the meetings of the working group would begin in late March - early April. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, meetings were postponed.
The Uzbekistan delegation was headed by the Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Investment and Foreign Trade Sardor Umurzakov.
The event was organized on July 7 on a special online platform in a "hybrid format": delegations of participating states participated directly in the WTO headquarters in Geneva, other participants, including experts from various countries, via video conferencing.
“Following the meeting, agreements were reached on conducting bilateral talks on issues of ensuring access to the market of goods and services from July 20 to July 31,” the statement said. The parties also agreed to move to the next stage of negotiations - preparation of a factual summary, which is the basis of the report of the working group on Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO.
WTO Deputy Director General Alan Wolfe reportedly welcomed the decision of Uzbekistan to resume the process of joining the organization and expressed its readiness to provide all necessary support in this initiative. “Also, remarks on supporting Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO were made by representatives of several other countries, regional and thematic groups,” the ministry added.
In July 2019, Uzbekistan submitted to the WTO an updated memorandum on the regime of foreign trade to consider the application for the country's accession the organization. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Uzbekistan intends to obtain the privileges of a developing country with when joining the WTO.