BAKU, Azerbaijan, October 30. Uzbekistan is an important and valued partner of the EU, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our cooperation, European Commission’s Lead Spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy Peter Stano told Trend in an exclusive interview, told TurkicWorld
"Our relations are currently governed by the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) that was concluded in 1999, however we have completed the negotiation of an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) which will significantly broaden and deepen the scope of our relations, extending it into new areas," Stano said.
The spokesperson also noted that the EPCA was initiated in July 2022 and is currently being prepared for signature and entry into force.
"In addition to EPCA, Uzbekistan benefits from the EU’s GSP+ (the Generalised System of Preferences Plus), granting access to reduced tariffs on many products in recognition of progress achieved in ratifying and implementing various international accords in the field of human rights and environmental governance," Stano stressed.
Further speaking, the Commission’s spokesperson mentioned that the EU is a major cooperation partner for Uzbekistan, with a Multiannual Indicative Programme of 76 million euros for the period from 2021 through 2027.
"The EU’s priority areas for Uzbekistan in this period are effective governance and digital transformation, inclusive, digital and green growth, as well as the development of effective eco-friendly agriculture and food sector," Stano noted.
Speaking of the development of Uzbekistan’s transit potential, Peter Stano noted that Uzbekistan is the only country in Central Asia to have a border with each of the other four Central Asian countries and has a key role to play in regional cooperation.
Stano said that Central Asia is a region of geostrategic importance for Europe as a crossroads between Europe and East Asia and between the North and South.
"Given its central location in Eurasia, key transit routes run through the region, offering access to resources and markets both within Central Asia and beyond," he explained.
Further speaking, the EU spokesperson has also noted that Uzbekistan wields significant influence in advancing regional integration, maintaining relationships with neighboring countries such as Afghanistan, Russia, and China, as well as participating actively in various multilateral organizations.
"Uzbekistan has been actively engaged in tackling regional and global issues such as youth policy, connectivity, water management, and climate change," he stressed.
Stano concluded by saying that the EU strongly supports the reform process underway in Uzbekistan and calls on this to be carried forward for full implementation, not only in the area of economic reforms but also in delivering political and social reforms.
Earlier this year, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev held talks with the EU delegation headed by Executive Vice President of the European Commission for An Economy that Works for People Valdis Dombrovskis to discuss issues of expanding mutually beneficial cooperation between Uzbekistan and EU institutions on the sidelines of the summit of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Uzbekistan's Samarkand.
Meanwhile, the trade exchange between Uzbekistan and EU member states reached a total of more than 2.95 billion euros in the first 7 months of 2023, which is 25.75 percent more in contrast to the initial 7 months of the year prior (2.35 billion euros).
Furthermore, the trade turnover between Uzbekistan and the EU countries reached 4.61 billion euros last year, which is 41 percent more than in 2021, when it amounted to 2.77 billion euros.