On 25 January 2023, the OECD, in co-operation with the Government of Uzbekistan, held a webinar to discuss the OECD’s Trade Facilitation Indicators (TFIs) and Uzbekistan’s 2022 TFI results. The event was organised as part of the Improving Trade Connectivity in Central Asia project, funded by the Republic of Kazakhstan, and brought together the OECD and representatives of the public and private sectors in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
From left to right, top to bottom: Mr William Tompson, OECD, Mr Kairat Torebayev, Vice Minister of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr Badriddin Abidov, Deputy Minister of Investments, Industry and Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Ms Silvia Sorescu, OECD
Opening the webinar, Mr Badriddin Abidov, Deputy Minister of Investments, Industry and Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan, expressed his gratitude for the co-operation with the OECD and the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Improving Trade Connectivity in Central Asia project. He reminded the implementation of consistent reforms to enhance trade facilitation, such as simplified and more transparent customs procedures, the implementation of 164 laws during the last three years to improve the legal framework for trade, and Uzbekistan’s accession to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures in 2021.
Mr Kairat Torebayev, Vice-Minister of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan, explained that deepening production co-operation and diversifying the structure of commodity flows are priority areas for co-operation in Central Asia, with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan acting as regional locomotives to increase regional trade. He added that in recent years, Central Asian countries have made significant efforts to simplify and streamline trade procedures and reduce the time it takes to complete trade transactions, removing unnecessary barriers, automating customs operations, and shortening clearance times, among others. Finally, he mentioned looking forward to seeing the findings of the OECD’s project on Trade Connectivity.
Ms Silvia Sorescu, Trade Policy Analyst in the OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate, presented the OECD’s Trade Facilitation Indicators and Uzbekistan’s results for 2022. She explained the importance of trade facilitation measures partially to offset the time and cost increases experienced by firms and consumers, and increase supply chain resilience, especially as the world faces increasing connectivity challenges. She then presented Uzbekistan’s improving performance since 2017, especially in terms of availability of information, the streamlining of border processes and border-agency co-operation. She then provided a comparison of Uzbekistan’s TFIs to that of Central Asia and OECD countries and highlighted the most challenging areas with potential areas for action. Uzbekistan could for instance enhance the consistency and predictability of customs and border procedures, further advance border agency co-operation (with a harmonisation of procedures) and improve governance.
TFIs: Uzbekistan and worldwide state of play, 2022
The Q&A session led participants to ask questions regarding the collection of data for the TFIs, the importance of logistics in trade facilitation, the development of online trade and the role of entrepreneurs in trade. Ms Sorescu reminded the importance of international standards in trade facilitation, as a way to speak the same language, especially to enhance the efficiency of cross-border agencies.
Concluding the webinar, Mr William Tompson, Head of the OECD Eurasia Division, thanked the representatives of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for their involvement in the recent OECD project on trade connectivity, and thanked the audience for their participation in the discussion.