Uzbekistan on the way to the WTO: Visit of the Director General of the World Trade Organization to the University of World Economy and Diplomacy

Uzbekistan on the way to the WTO: Visit of the Director General of the World Trade Organization to the University of World Economy and Diplomacy


Tashkent, Uzbekistan – On June 5, 2024, the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, visited the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED). The meeting, attended by the university’s administration, researchers, students, and members of the Institute of Advanced International Studies (IAIS), proved to be highly productive. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s insights enriched the participants’ understanding of global trade and provided valuable information about Uzbekistan’s process of joining the WTO.

In his welcome speech, Rector of UWED, H.E. Sadyk Safoyev, honoured the distinguished guest, emphasizing her rich academic and practical experience. In recognition of her contributions, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of UWED. The Rector noted the importance of free trade and competition for Uzbekistan’s economic development, and emphasized the urgency of completing the country’s accession process to the WTO. 

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala expressed her support for Uzbekistan’s aspiration to join the WTO, praising the ongoing trade and economic reforms in the country. She acknowledged the important role of UWED in training highly qualified personnel in international relations, economics and law, who are actively involved in the implementation of these reforms and policies. The Director General emphasized that for double landlocked countries such as Uzbekistan, WTO accession is a critical challenge to ensure free trade, job creation and economic growth. She added that Uzbekistan, as a significant supplier of cotton raw materials, could bring a new perspective to WTO discussions on cotton production subsidies. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala also noted the new opportunities that WTO membership would create for Uzbekistan in international food security, exporting critical minerals, addressing global challenges, developing the digital economy and expanding international economic cooperation under fair competition.

The event featured a Q&A session where important topics were discussed, such as the WTO’s role in combating economic nationalism and protectionism, helping accession countries balance short-term economic losses with long-term benefits, and the prospects for youth participation in advocating for free trade. Special focus was given to the WTO Chairs Program at universities around the world, including UWED.

In his closing remarks, H.E. Sadyk Safoev emphasized the importance of trade in combating global challenges and problems, as well as the role of free competition in ensuring economic dynamics. He expressed hope for Uzbekistan’s timely accession to the WTO and thanked the Director General for her visit. 

The meeting with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala marked a significant step towards strengthening Uzbekistan’s position in the international trade arena. The support from the WTO and the recognition of ongoing reforms confirm that Uzbekistan is on the right path. Accession to the WTO will open new avenues for economic growth, improving the terms of trade and strengthening international cooperation.