On February 4-7, the first round of negotiations on the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the European Union was held in Tashkent. Through an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), the European Union would be able to better support the ongoing ambitious reforms in Uzbekistan, in particular the recent steps towards democratisation and market economy, as well as the new dynamism in regional cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.
From Uzbekistan side delegation was headed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Dilshod Akhatov, whereas from EU side by the Deputy Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia of the European External Action Service Mr Luc Devigne.
Both parties came to a common understanding on the structure of the draft Agreement and, divided into three groups, discussed in detail all sections of the document, identifying possible mutually acceptable provisions.
The future agreement is expected to cover areas such as political dialogue and reforms, the rule of law, justice, freedom and security, human rights, anti-corruption, migration, and trade, as well as economic and sustainable development. It will promote a favourable business and investment environment. It will also provide for cooperation on foreign policy issues and global challenges such as climate change, and the fight against terrorism.
As it was stated by Mr Luc Devigne, "Our aim is to conclude negotiations as soon as possible while achieving a comprehensive, ambitious agreement that will bring benefits to both EU and Uzbek citizens".
By mutual agreement, meetings of experts on the Trade section of the draft Agreement with the involvement of relevant ministries of Uzbekistan will continue until the end of the week.
It was decided to hold the second round of negotiations in Brussels.
Within the visit of the European delegation to Tashkent, the application of Uzbekistan for the “General System of Preferences Plus” (“GSP +”) status was discussed. For this aim a briefing for representatives of Uzbek business was conducted in order to explain the benefits of obtaining the “GSP +” status.