Monthly Meeting on January 25, 2018

A Monthly Meeting on January 25 was dedicated to the issues of Uzbekistan’s WTO accession. USAID International Expert, Mr. Jovan Jekic gave an overview of the process, as well as the potential implications for the country with WTO membership.

The history of WTO, basic principles, rules and the experience of WTO accession of other countries were described by Mr. Jekic in his speech. WTO is a member driven organization and the members examine the trade regime in a country and there is no way to be even partially compliant, the trade regime must be fully compliant with WTO rules. When all the countries are happy with the results of negotiations the country is invited to become a member. It is easy to talk about it but it is much more complicated in practice. It takes much time and efforts to make the legislation of the candidate country compliant with WTO rules and especially to negotiate import tariff duties. The voice of each country no matter how small and poor it is will have the same importance for taking any decision and winning the disputes as the voice of any other WTO member. One of the favorite examples of Mr. Jekic is the case of Antigua and Barbuda when it won compensation from the United States in a long-running trade dispute about gambling. The WTO panel said Antigua was entitled to compensation of $21 million a year from the United States for being shut out of the U.S. online gambling market.

Uzbekistan applied for the accession to WTO in 1994. Several discussions were held; however since 2005 there was no any activity to join WTO. Now Uzbekistan’s willingness to become WTO member is obvious. Uzbek policymakers are ambitious and in their plans to join WTO in 1.5 years. Tajikistan managed to become WTO member in 11 years and it took 20 years from Kazakhstan to become WTO member.

Mr. Jovan Jekic serves as a trade consultant for USAID’s Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs (CTJ) in Central Asia Activity. He is a senior attorney with over 35 years of experience in international commercial law, intellectual property, customs rules and procedures, business regulatory environment, trade and investment policies. For the past fifteen years, he has worked on donor funded projects covering areas such as World Trade Organization (WTO) accession and business environment improvement, trade facilitation and related institutional capacity building. Mr. Jekic has worked extensively with USAID in Central Asia on economic development and trade projects. He served as the key advisor to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade in Tajikistan, on all matters related to the World Trade Organization, including fulfillment of commitments taken during the accession process, and compliance of laws and regulations with WTO rules and disciplines. He was instrumental in drafting the Post WTO Accession Action Plan, providing a detailed plan of further reform and trade liberalization in the period of five years following accession to the WTO. He also provided assistance in reorganizing the WTO Department within the Ministry and establishing a dedicated WTO Section within Tajikistan’s diplomatic mission in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that, for the USAID Regional Trade Liberalization and Customs Project (RTLC) in Central Asia, he led technical assistance related to the WTO accession, customs reform and improved implementation of the business enabling policies in Tajikistan. Earlier, Mr. Jekic served as Chief of Party on the USAID WTO Accession Project for Serbia and Montenegro, where he played a key role in assisting Montenegro to conclude its WTO accession proceedings and bringing its foreign trade regime into full conformity with the WTO requirements. His work advanced the accession of Serbia and assisted in undertaking major legal and institutional reforms related to foreign trade regime.