EU-Uzbekistan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement

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Diplomatic relations between Uzbekistan and the European Union (EU) were established on 16 November 1994. The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the EU and Uzbekistan was signed in Florence in June 1996 at the level of heads of state. In July 2022, Uzbekistan and the EU completed the three-year negotiations and signed the new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) in Brussels, which will replace the PCA that has been in force for more than 20 years.

Negotiations on the EPCA draft started in February 2019 and were completed in June 2022. During this time, 10 negotiation rounds and more than 150 meetings were held at the level of experts, chief negotiators, and government members. Thus, EOCA was signed on 6th July 2022. The agreement includes provisions on political dialogue, democratic cooperation, human rights, development of cultural relations, financial and technical cooperation, investment, and protection of goods, services, and intellectual property.

Also, EPCA covers new areas such as foreign policy, security, conflict prevention, crisis management, protection of personal data, asylum and border management, fight against illegal immigration, fight against organized crime and corruption and fight against terrorism. The Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan said “The agreement establishes a full-fledged mechanism for comprehensive cooperation between Uzbekistan and the EU.” in a statement.[1]

In this context, EPCA is expected to contribute to the further integration of Uzbekistan into the multilateral trade system, strengthen the market economy mechanisms, increase the trust and interest of foreign investors and business circles in the country, and create new opportunities for domestic producers for commercial cooperation with partners from EU countries.

In this context, the President of the European Council Charles Michel, visited Uzbekistan on 27 October 2022 to discuss current issues regarding the expansion of multifaceted cooperation between Uzbekistan and the EU. The parties exchanged views on the international and regional agenda. After the negotiations, Michel reaffirmed his strong support for the reform policies implemented within the framework of the New Uzbekistan Development Strategy. In addition, while expressing his hope that the policies in question will be sustainable and irreversible [2] he said the following sentences:[3]

“We appreciate the important role played by the President and government of Uzbekistan in strengthening regional cooperation. The EU is always ready to be a partner and to support the strengthening of regional cooperation for stability and prosperity. In addition, the EU aims to diversify its sources of supply and expand its partner range. For this reason, we have great confidence in Uzbekistan and Central Asia as reliable partners with whom we can develop cooperation in many promising fields.”

According to the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan, the trade volume between Uzbekistan and EU countries grew by 22% in the first five months of 2022 on the other hand exports from Uzbekistan increased by 86%. Among the commodity categories that have grown the most are products from the chemical industry, textiles, and foodstuffs.[4] It is stated that these commercial successes are largely due to Uzbekistan gaining the status of “GSP+” beneficiary within the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences in 2021.

The successful launch of the GSP was made possible by Uzbekistan’s progress in pursuing a clear domestic and foreign policy, balanced parliamentary diplomacy, ensuring human rights and freedom of expression, and eliminating forced and child labor. The development of a multi-faceted dialogue with the EU has been greatly facilitated by the achievement of the results of the reforms carried out in Uzbekistan, the achievement of the national sustainable development goals, and the implementation of the New Uzbekistan Development Strategy 2022-2026.

The President of Uzbekistan, Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, underlined the key points for the convergence and deepening of cooperation with the EU, in line with many provisions of the EPCA. Mr. Mirziyoyev advocates a consistent deepening of interaction within the framework of trade and economic cooperation and within the scope of the GSP + preferential trade system between Central Asia and the EU in priority areas such as increasing the trade volume of Uzbekistan with EU countries ensuring the compliance of domestic industrial goods with European standards and technical regulations and creating effective transportation and logistics corridors for optimum access to EU markets by taking into account the current restrictions.

After extensive negotiations, the parties emphasized that joint efforts should be made to accelerate the implementation of the EU strategy towards Central Asia and they will meet again at the EU-Central Asia Conference on “Global Doors for Sustainable Development” to be held in Samarkand on 18 November 2022.

The new EPCA Agreement covers a wider range of topics compared to the current PCA. The agreement is no longer a framework agreement and it constitutes a full-fledged mechanism for comprehensive interaction between Uzbekistan and the EU, including the areas of trade and economic cooperation. In addition to the text of the agreement, the annexes regulating the list and quantities of the goods that the EU wants to import from Uzbekistan are also very important. In addition, the range of interaction in the fields of investment cooperation, goods, services, and intellectual property has been expanded by taking into account the basic rules of the WTO.

In addition to all this, the Protocol on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters envisages mutual obligations that will have a positive impact on the work of the customs authorities as it defines the conditions for mandatory interaction between the customs authorities of Uzbekistan and the EU. Because the establishment of clear rules will speed up the customs clearance of goods for both exporters and importers.

As a result, within the framework of regional and bilateral cooperation, Uzbekistan and the EU carry out joint projects in many areas such as socio-economic development, education, rule of law, border management, fight against organized crime, transportation, environment, and agriculture. Uzbekistan and the EU are interested in maintaining the positive growth dynamics of trade and strive to increase their annual trade volume to $10 billion. Recent developments have once again confirmed the desire to strengthen the open and constructive dialogue and partnership between the parties.

[1] “Узбекистан и ЕС завершили переговоры по Соглашению о расширенном партнёрстве и сотрудничестве”,,, (Date of Accession: 30.10.2022).

[2] “Президент и глава Евросовета обсудили экономику и свободу слова”,,, (Date of Accession: 30.10.2022).

[3] “Встречи глав стран Центральной Азии и ЕС планируем проводить регулярно — Шарль Мишель”,,, (Date of Accession: 30.10.2022).

[4] “Узбекистан и ЕС завершили переговоры по Соглашению о расширенном партнёрстве и сотрудничестве”,,, (Date of Accession: 30.10.2022).

Aidana BAKTYBEK KYZY, 1999 yılında Bişkek'te doğmuştur. BAKTYBEK KYZY, 2022yılında Sakarya Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü'nden mezun olmuştur. Halihazırda yüksek lisans eğitimini Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü'nde devam ettirmektedir.