Trade experts in dark suits talk around a table

ITC organizes expert guidance for Uzbekistan on key WTO measures

24 mai 2024
ITC News

Arthur Appleton is one of the world’s foremost legal experts on WTO requirements on food safety and animal and plant health. Bringing his in-depth knowledge of WTO technical regulations, he visited Tashkent last month to help Uzbekistan navigate this complex terrain in advance of joining the WTO.  

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has basic rules that help countries guarantee animal and plant health, and food safety for consumers, in line with internationally accepted standards. The rules are contained in the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS).

The measures encompass the gamut of laws, regulations and requirements, including production methods and processes, testing, inspection, certification and quarantines.

The SPS, along with the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT), guide countries on how to apply international standards so they facilitate business activities and are not used as disguised forms of protection that hamper trade.

Guiding trade negotiators

To discuss these matters, Appleton met with Azizbek Urunov, Uzbekistan’s chief negotiator  on WTO accession, and the technical team over several days between 21 and 26 April. The meetings were set up by the International Trade Centre (ITC).

The consultations were complemented by two days of lectures on these topics on 23 and 24 April  at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED).

Some 30 participants attended the training. They were officials from the Ministry of Justice and technicians at several state agencies, including the Agency for Plant Protection and Quarantine, Veterinary and Livestock Development Committee, SanEpid Committee, and the Agency for Technical Regulation.

Researchers and students at UWED’s law department also attended the lectures. The training was part of the trade accelerator training programme conceived by the ITC to fast-track trade capacity in advance of Uzbekistan’s WTO membership.

Transparency and institutions

The first day gave an overview of the SPS Agreement and its principles, homing in on risk assessment, management and communication. Key concepts enshrined in the SPS Agreement, such as harmonization and equivalence, were explained with signature WTO disputes as examples. Dispute settlement was also treated. Each of the topic sessions was interspersed with practical hints for Uzbekistan’s negotiators. The second day treated the TBT Agreement, following the same approach.

Time was devoted to transparency – a key principle for the WTO – and how it is ensured in practice. An SPS National Notification Authority and National Enquiry Point will have to be set up. The ITC is already helping Uzbekistan to develop the necessary legislation for this purpose.

Appleton’s visit was organized by the ITC with support from the European Union as part of the project Facilitating the process of Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO.