Uzbekistan Embassy: Possible Cooperation of Uzbekistan with the Eurasian Economic Union
Uzbekistan pursues an open, mutually beneficial and constructive foreign policy based on the national interests of the country.
Uzbekistan is open for dialogue and is interested in expanding pragmatic cooperation with all partners on the basis of equality, mutual benefit, respect and consideration of each other’s interests. Uzbekistan does not develop relations with one country or organization by restricting of cooperation with the other side.
One of the priority areas of the Action Strategy is the development of cooperation with neighboring countries and ensuring the integration of Uzbekistan into the world community.
In this regard, over the past two years Uzbekistan has significantly expanded its economic ties with neighboring countries. As a result, trade with Central Asian countries almost doubled; many issues hindering cross-border trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation were removed.
Uzbekistan significantly reduced customs barriers and duties (more than 6 thousand commodity items), abolished the visa regime for 86 countries of the world, which gave an active impetus to the development of the tourism sector, as well as resumed dialogue with the World Trade Organization.
Economic relations between Uzbekistan and the Benelux countries are actively expanding. Trade turnover for January-September 2019 amounted to $201.98 million, which is 22.8% more compared to the same period in 2018.
In the context of the new economic policy, Uzbekistan does not intend to restrict itself in cooperation with foreign states or international and regional organizations, as well as integration associations, if this meets its own foreign economic interests.
In particular, at present, Uzbekistan has begun to study issues of possible cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
In general, the EAEU space is a promising market with almost 200 million people, and Uzbekistan needs smooth access to it to further address issues of increasing exports, attracting investments and access to new resources.
While initiating dialogue with the EAEU, Uzbekistan takes into account the following factors:
1) Situation in the labor market. Every year, 600 thousand young people enter the labor market, more than 2 million people work in the Russia and another 300 thousand in Kazakhstan. It is extremely important to create decent conditions for the labor activity of our citizens working in the territory of the EAEU countries.
For reference. In the EAEU, legal protection is provided, including social sphere, for citizens of member states engaged in labor activities in the territory of another EAEU state, as well as their family members:
- direct recognition of diplomas and qualifications is valid on the territory of all EAEU states without their nostrification;
- work experience is taken into account for social security purposes;
- children have the right to attend preschool in accordance with the laws of the host state;
- ambulance is provided free of charge, as for citizens of this states;
- citizens get access to a social package provided by employers (disability benefits, health insurance, benefits for families, etc.);
- capabilities of the Agency for External Labor Migration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan are expanding to use official channels of influence on employers, including labor and internal affairs bodies of the EAEU member countries in order to protect the rights of citizens of the country.
2) Sales markets. The EAEU countries are the closest markets, especially for the fast-growing exports of textile, leather and footwear, fruits and vegetables, automobiles and other non-primary products.
Thanks to the bilateral agreements, the total trade turnover of Uzbekistan with the EAEU countries for 2016-2018 increased by 52% and reached to $9.65 billion.
Today, we supply about 40% of total exports to the EAEU countries. Uzbekistan exports to the EAEU countries products worth more than $4 billion.
Joining the EAEU, the access of Uzbek products to the markets of the EAEU member countries will be facilitated by:
– simplification of procedures in mutual trade and foreign trade without restrictions and exemptions;
– cancellation of customs duties.
3) Transit corridors. The territories of the EAEU countries remain the main transit corridors (80% of the total volume) of the foreign trade cargo of our country. Given that Uzbekistan is a double land-locked country, the creation of a favorable transit infrastructure for domestic exporters is a vital factor.
While carrying out transit traffic within the EAEU, a single tariff policy is in place, which will allow Uzbekistan:
– to reduce the cost of transportation of goods;
– to attract new transit flows, allowing to increase the total volume of transit up to 10-12 million tons.
Joining the EAEU will promote to increase the transit attractiveness of transport corridors passing through Uzbekistan.
Integration within the EAEU facilitates access to continental transport hubs. Uzbekistan will be able to use the developed transport and communication system of the EAEU, which provides the shortest routes of communications between Europe and Asia, access to markets and sea routes of the Middle East, China, Russia and Europe.
At the same time, together with partners, the country’s transport infrastructure will be improved, taking into account integration into the most important transcontinental international transport corridors.
4) The EAEU provides an opportunity for closer cooperation between member countries in the field of science and education. Currently, over 25 thousand students from Uzbekistan study in Russia, 3.7 thousand in Kazakhstan, 1.8 thousand in Kyrgyzstan, more than 200 in Belarus.
Based on this, a thorough assessment of the pros and cons of cooperation between Uzbekistan and the EAEU is currently underway, based on which the issue of forms and types of collaboration with this organization will be considered.
It is necessary to emphasize that in matters of cooperation with the EAEU we are talking exclusively about economic cooperation. Joining any international and regional organization will not mean a waiver of obligations within other associations.
At the same time, Uzbekistan is committed to maintaining and building up its close partnership, economic and trade relations with other countries, including non-members of the EAEU, as well as international economic and financial organizations.