High-level event marks Uzbek university joining WTO Chairs Programme

High-level event marks Uzbek university joining WTO Chairs Programme

Monday, May 23, 2022

The University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED) in Uzbekistan held a high-level event on 23 May 2022 to launch its activities under the WTO Chairs Programme (WCP). Uzbekistan, a landlocked country, is currently applying for WTO membership. Deputy Director-General Xiangchen Zhang, senior officials from the Government of Uzbekistan, trade officials in Geneva and representatives from partner organizations attended the meeting.

The WCP is a technical assistance programme which brings together universities in developing and least developed countries in order to foster research and capacity building with the involvement of Governmental policy makers and other stakeholders.

UWED's 2022 activities under the WCP will focus on issues relating to Uzbekistan's WTO accession, including WTO disciplines on trade in agricultural products, WTO rules on subsidies in relation to Uzbekistan's national legislation, as well as the framework for the regulation of tourism services.

DDG Zhang congratulated UWED on being selected as one of 17 universities to join the Chairs network in late 2021. "The selection team was very impressed with UWED's multidisciplinary approach to its proposed activities and its proven track record in research. With its selection, UWED also becomes the first WCP Chair in Central Asia," he said.

Mr Sodyq Safoev, a member of the Parliament of Uzbekistan and Rector of UWED, hailed UWED's membership in the WCP as a remarkable fit for the needs of the country and stated that it will contribute greatly to the accession of Uzbekistan to the WTO. He said: "The WTO Chair is a good instrument to make profound, in depth, analytical research to create sectorial assessments regarding the challenges faced by the economy and society during accession and will be most helpful to the Parliament during decision making and providing intellectual academic support."

Mr Badriddin Abidov, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan, highlighted the ministry's close collaboration with UWED and emphasized that Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO is crucial for the country to integrate into the multilateral trading system. He thanked DDG Zhang and the WTO Secretariat for their support throughout the country's accession process.

Ambassador Ulugbek Lapasov of Uzbekistan's Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations said: "By joining the WCP, UWED will better promote cooperation between research institutions in Uzbekistan and other countries by jointly undertaking activities related to research and development in the field of international trade." He added that his team at the Permanent Mission of Uzbekistan in Geneva stood ready to join hands in supporting UWED in providing necessary assistance on WTO related issues and research for the implementation of the WCP's objectives.

Ambassador Taeho Lee of the Republic of Korea's Permanent Mission to the WTO spoke for the WCP's donors, noting that "by training the trainers of a country on the path to WTO membership, the Chairs Programme will enable policymakers to rely more on domestic academic expertise as they strengthen their familiarity with the WTO system - both in the run-up to accession as well as thereafter." Ambassador Lee is also chairing the Fifth Working Party on Uzbekistan’s Accession to the WTO.

Ms Cynthia Zimmermann, Director-General at the Ministry for Labour and Economic Affairs of Austria, a donor to the WCP, said: "I am convinced that the new WTO Chair in Uzbekistan, with the support of the wide network of specialists of the Chairs programme, will be able to provide valuable expertise to governmental and other stakeholders in Uzbekistan to successfully complete its accession." Mr Thomas Brisset, from the Ministry of Economy and Finance of France, another donor to the WCP, congratulated UWED on joining the WCP Network, which now consists of 36 academic Chairs in institutions across different regions.

Professor Jaemin Lee from Seoul National University, an academic partner of UWED, said: "The addition of UWED to the WCP Network is crucial because Uzbekistan is the first country in Central Asia to join the programme, and also because it is nearing the final stretch of its accession to the WTO. The long-term relationship between Uzbekistan and Korea, which exists on a scholar-to-scholar basis as well, will continue to flourish under the umbrella of the WCP."

Ms Elisabeth Tuerk from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe noted that Uzbekistan had embarked on an impressive reform agenda raising many international trade-related research questions that will be addressed by the Chair in partnership with the academic network of the WTO Chairs Programme.

On behalf of the Academic Advisory Board of the WTO Chairs Programme, Prof. Peter Van den Bossche, Director of the World Trade Institute, congratulated the new Chair at UWED and expressed his conviction that the team would make a very valuable contribution to the further development of the trade policy of Uzbekistan.