Cluster 2 of the Work Programme involved a mix of training activities and technical sessions that focused on the sections of the Memorandum related to policies affecting trade in goods (import and export regulations). Over 50 participants from relevant ministries and agencies of Turkmenistan actively participated in the sessions.
At the opening session, Ms Galina Romanova, Head of the State Finance and Economic Policy Department at the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Turkmenistan, noted the substantial progress on the preparation of the Memorandum since the start of the first cluster in July 2023. She expressed appreciation for the technical support provided by the WTO Secretariat and the ADB.
The WTO Secretariat welcomed Turkmenistan's strong political commitment to the accession process, led by Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, who met with WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on the margins of the UN General Assembly last September.
The importance of the timely preparation of the Memorandum was emphasized as it represents the first document to trigger Turkmenistan's accession engagement with WTO members in a Working Party tentatively scheduled for 2024. Mr Artur Andrysiak, Country Director of Turkmenistan Resident Mission, reiterated the ADB’s commitment in supporting Turkmenistan’s endeavour to accede to the WTO.
Cluster 2 started with the delivery of virtual training sessions on 2-6 October by three WTO Secretariat divisions — Market Access, Rules and Accessions. The topics covered included: import and export tariffs and schedules of concessions, other duties and charges, fees and charges for services rendered, and internal taxation; quantitative import restrictions, including prohibitions, quotas and licensing systems, and tariff rate quotas. Other topics included: import and export licensing procedures; customs valuation and pre-shipment inspection; rules of origin; trade facilitation; subsidies and subsidy notifications; trade remedies; and trading rights.
The virtual training activities were followed by in-person technical working sessions on the preparation of relevant sections of the Memorandum delivered by the Accessions Division on 23-27 October in Ashgabat. The sessions were assisted by two ADB experts who shared Kazakhstan's accession experience.
The cluster concluded with a Round Table on Technical Assistance with development partners. Moderated by Mr Nurgeldi Meredov, World Bank Country Director for Turkmenistan, the discussion provided an opportunity to exchange information on the technical assistance needs of Turkmenistan in the accession process, as well as the ongoing support provided by partners.
Participants included representatives of the ADB, the European Union, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Government of Turkmenistan was represented by the Ministry of Finance and Economy, which currently hosts a dedicated department on the preparation of the Memorandum and takes the lead in the implementation of its Work Programme.
Participants welcomed the progress on the technical work and agreed to maintain a regular dialogue for effective coordination among partners to support Turkmenistan on its economic reforms throughout WTO accession.
Cluster 3 is scheduled to start in mid-November and last until the end of December. It will focus on internal policies affecting trade in goods.
Turkmenistan is the last former Soviet republic to initiate WTO accession negotiations, having been granted observer status by members in July 2020. Since then, the WTO Secretariat has worked closely with Turkmenistan to establish a roadmap for accession and conduct training activities on accession documentation, in partnership with the ADB.