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EU-Uzbekistan trade talks to end


EU-Uzbekistan trade talks to end

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Photo: Yuri Korsutstev/AFP/Getty

The seventh round of negotiations on the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between Uzbekistan and the EU is set to end today.

Current negotiations are part of the EU strategy for Central Asia adopted in 2019 and should lead to the renewal of bilateral agreements between the EU and Uzbekistan. The European Commission has also given Uzbekistan the green light to obtain generalised preference (GSP+) status. GSP+ status will double the number of Uzbekistani exports entering the EU exempt from customs duties to a new total of 6,200 products.

These talks signify a rapprochement between Brussels and Tashkent, which began following the election of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in December 2016. Uzbekistan has in the intervening years gradually liberalised; reconciliation with the EU is a vital piece of this liberalisation.

Expect an increase in trade between the EU and Uzbekistan, for which the EPCA presents an alternative support structure alongside China and Russia. The EU, which has concluded an EPCA with neighbouring Kazakhstan and is negotiating with Kyrgyzstan, sees negotiations with Uzbekistan as an opportunity to strengthen its influence in Central Asia, a region traditionally seen as Russia’s backyard and frequently courted by China for its geostrategic position and resources.

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