Assisting Uzbekistan's Parliament with Specific Issues Pertaining to its WTO Accession Process

Clinic: Graduate Institute, Fall 2020

Beneficiary: Legislation and Parliamentary Research Institute (LPRI), Uzbekistan

Executive Summary

Full report can be read here

This Memorandum is prepared to guide the Beneficiary through Uzbekistan’s accession process to the World Trade Organization (hereinafter WTO). Uzbekistan’s accession process began in December 1994 but remained dormant until July 2020. Now, the Uzbek government has expressed enthusiasm for pursuing accession to the WTO. The Memorandum offers a general overview of the accession process and addresses specific questions relating to Uzbekistan’s WTO accession.

The findings in this Memorandum are based largely on comparative research of recent WTO accessions with a focus on the WTO members in the Eurasian region. We have reviewed the documents submitted during Eurasian WTO members’ accession process, along with the academic sources discussing such accessions. We also analysed Uzbekistan’s current trade relationships to evaluate the pros and cons of Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO. We likewise analysed the considerations pertaining to EAEU membership by focusing on other WTO members in the region. Finally, to analyse the potential changes to two laws submitted by the Beneficiary with regards to its accession process. We thus have reviewed the two Uzbek acts against the backdrop of: WTO Covered Agreements, the WTO Checklist for accessions, and other amended legislation of members that recently acceded to the WTO accessions for consistency. The following are our findings:

On the overview of the WTO accession process, there are common stages (fact-finding, negotiating, finalising the Draft Working Party Report) for every Member wishing to obtain WTO Membership. In the case of Uzbekistan, the accession terms’ negotiations are of paramount importance. From the beneficiary perspective, it may be advisable for the Uzbek Oliy Majlis to further engage in the negotiation process or establish other forms of parliamentary presence in the accession process.

As for the expected ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of Uzbekistan becoming a WTO member, this memorandum identifies potential benefits such as lower tariffs, the enjoyment of non-discriminatory treatment, more predictability in trade relations and a binding dispute settlement system. At the same time, we identify the costs and drawbacks, including loss of regulatory space. Overall, we find that transition economies such as Uzbekistan will reap long-term benefits from WTO membership by, e.g., enabling them to lose the Non-Market Economy (hereinafter NME) label.

In evaluating Uzbekistan’s policy towards the Eurasian Economic Union (hereinafter EAEU), this memorandum compares the relative benefits and drawbacks associated with EAEU Membership. The memorandum further analyses the effect that EAEU membership could have on the WTO Accession process of Uzbekistan. Were Uzbekistan to join both the EAEU and the WTO, we recommend prioritising accession to WTO in the interests of time and to avoid the hurdles faced by Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

For the two laws submitted by the Beneficiary in preparation of Uzbekistan’s WTO accession, this memorandum finds that (i) the Law on Copyright and Related Rights (2006) generally conforms with the WTO Covered Agreements and (ii) some portions of the Law on Free Economic Activity (2000) may need to be revised to take WTO disciplines into consideration. For the Law on Copyright and Related Rights, we recommend revising two minor provisions (habitual residence and seizure of infringed copies upon importation). We further identify two potential questions that may arise during the accession negotiations (enforcement of intellectual property disciplines and foreign sound recording). With regards to the Law on Foreign Economic Activity, this memorandum identifies areas such as security exceptions, quantitative restrictions, trade remedies, countermeasures, and dispute settlement that may need to be revised to reflect Uzbekistan’s WTO commitments. Finally, we provide a draft legislation model and a commented version of the two laws in the present memorandum’s Annexes.

Full report can be read here.