In Brussels, within the framework of the visit of the government delegation of Uzbekistan, a meeting was held between the Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan S. Umurzakov and the Executive Vice President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis.
During the meeting, the current state and prospects for further strengthening the strategic relations between Uzbekistan and the European Union were discussed.
The dynamic nature of the development of bilateral relations in key areas and active dialogue at various levels were emphasized, which reflects the mutual intentions of the parties to strengthen and expand cooperation.
Issues related to holding bilateral events were considered, including the EU-Central Asia Summit, the EU-Central Asia Ministerial Conference, as well as the visit of high-level EU representatives to Uzbekistan. An agreement was reached to create a joint working group to prepare for these events and fill their agenda with practical content. Also, the European side was invited to take part in the Tashkent International Investment Forum, which will be held in March this year.
The course of trade, economic and investment cooperation was discussed. At the end of 2021, the volume of trade between Uzbekistan and the EU countries amounted to $3.9 billion, while there was an increase in exports from Uzbekistan of equipment, as well as products of the textile, chemical and leather and footwear industries. Germany, Lithuania and Italy became the country’s largest trading partners in the EU. The parties agreed on the need to intensify joint efforts to increase the volume of mutual trade through the use of additional tools.
Thus, in particular, the importance of full use of the opportunities provided to Uzbekistan by obtaining the status of a beneficiary of the EU Generalized System of Preferences (“GSP+”), due to which the export of Uzbek goods to the EU countries in 2021 increased by 30 percent, was noted. The Uzbek side expressed its commitment to maintaining close cooperation with the EU Delegation in Uzbekistan and relevant EU institutions for the joint implementation of initiatives on labor protection and human rights in the country, as well as the effective implementation of the provisions of all 27 international conventions that were ratified by Uzbekistan in the process of obtaining this status.
The course of joint work on agreeing on the text of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU (EPCA) was studied. An agreement was reached on the intensification of the negotiation process and the organization of the next round of negotiations in Tashkent.
Issues of interaction in matters related to Uzbekistan’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) were discussed. The parties agreed to speed up the process of bilateral negotiations, as well as to work out the possibilities of organizing the 5th meeting of the Working Group on Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO in Geneva (Switzerland).
Issues of financial and technical cooperation were discussed separately. The parties identified further actions for the practical implementation of the Indicative Cooperation Program with Uzbekistan for 2021-2024, which provides for the allocation of grants from the EU for 83 million euros for the implementation of significant projects to promote reforms, protect human rights and support civil society organizations in Uzbekistan.
The active nature of the development of cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB) was emphasized. Currently, several projects in the field of heat and water supply, healthcare, business support and development of the Aral Sea region are under consideration.
Issues related to the activities of the Human Security Trust Fund were also addressed. The European side was thanked for the financial assistance provided to the activities of the Fund and the implementation of socially oriented projects in the region. It should be noted that the EU is currently one of the Fund’s largest donors.
Following the meeting, the parties expressed their mutual readiness for the consistent expansion and strengthening of bilateral partnership and close cooperation to solve common problems.
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