22:39 / 23.11.2020
“This issue is still open” – Sodiq Safoyev comments on Uzbekistan’s joining the EAEU

A large part of Uzbekistan’s population, including the government and the parliament, have a consensus on joining the World Trade Organization. Meanwhile, the issue of EAEU membership remains open. This was stated by the First Deputy Chairman of the Senate Sodiq Safoyev during his visit to the United States.

A delegation led by Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov visited the United States on November 15-22 to hold regular Uzbek-American political consultations.

During the visit, on November 17, First Deputy Speaker of the Senate Sodiq Safoyev met with Jonathan Henick, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central Asia, at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

According to TASS, the parties touched upon Uzbekistan’s membership in the World Trade Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union.

“Membership in the WTO is a high priority for Uzbekistan, and we are grateful to the United States for its cooperation in the process of joining the organization. Last week, Uzbek Deputy PM Sardor Umurzakov and US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross held very successful talks. We are once again convinced that the United States will support us,” Safoyev said.

He noted that a number of experts in Uzbekistan are concerned that WTO membership will “negatively affect local businesses to compete in the international arena.” At the same time, Safoyev said that “a large part of the population”, as well as the government and parliament, agreed on the need to join the WTO.

Speaking about the EAEU, the senator noted that the issue is causing more controversy in society. He said there are many factors to consider, but the important ones are three. These are the millions of Uzbek labor migrants in the EAEU countries, the opening of new transport corridors and great opportunities for exports.

“We are considering whether or not joining the EAEU will reduce the independence of foreign trade policy and the position of small and medium-sized businesses next to more experienced partners abroad. This issue is still open,” the First Deputy Chairman of the Senate said.

In turn, Jonathan Henick noted that the United States supports Uzbekistan’s membership in the WTO, noting that the WTO is a large-scale long-term organization, and the EAEU is still a young and relatively small association.

“We believe that Uzbekistan really needs to make decisions based on its own interests,” the top US diplomat for Central Asia said.

It should be recalled that in April this year, the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis voted to cooperate with the EAEU as an observer state. Of the 132 deputies who were present, 86 voted in favor, 32 opposed and 14 abstained.

In May, the issue was put to a vote in the Senate and approved. 71 senators voted in favor of becoming EAEU observers, 16 senators opposed and 4 members of the upper house abstained.