Attended by over 50 representatives from various ministries and agencies involved in the preparation of the MFTR, the Round Table provided an opportunity to exchange information on accession procedures, the accession experience of Kazakhstan, and development partners' support.
Galina Romanova, Head of Department at the Ministry of Finance and Economy, reiterated Turkmenistan's high-level political commitment to WTO accession and highlighted recent domestic developments to launch the process, including the establishment of the special Commission in charge of developing the MFTR. Chaired by Hojamyrat Geldimyradov, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of finance and economy, the Commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting in June.
Maika Oshikawa, Director of the WTO Accessions Division, welcomed progress made following a series of meetings between WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Rashid Meredov, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan. She noted that Central Asia plays a strategic role in upholding the rules-based multilateral trading system. Turkmenistan's accession is a critical part in the region's active engagement in the WTO, which also includes the accessions of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.
Artur Andrysiak, ADB Country Director for Turkmenistan, noted the importance of trade liberalization for Turkmenistan’s economic transformation and its quest to further integrate into the global economy. He confirmed the ADB's readiness to support Turkmenistan's accession efforts, including the provision of expert support by former members of Kazakhstan's accession negotiating team, on the preparation of the MFTR.
The Round Table started with a detailed presentation on the accession process, with the focus on the requirements for the fact-finding stage. Experts from Kazakhstan shared information on their accession process, noting the negotiations lasted nearly 20 years and ended in 2015.
The Round Table also provided an opportunity to exchange views with development partners in a session moderated by Dmitry Shlapachenko, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan. In addition to the WTO and ADB, representatives from the European Union, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) indicated their readiness to provide technical assistance and donor support to Turkmenistan on its economic reforms and WTO accession.
The importance of coordination was stressed as a means of avoiding duplication and maximising the efficiency of the assistance provided. An inventory of assistance and a matrix of Turkmenistan's needs are being compiled and will be updated regularly to facilitate periodic exchange between the Government and the development community.
The WTO Secretariat visited Ashgabat from 29 to 31 May to assist the Government in advancing the domestic preparation for the accession process and met with several government officials. These included the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Vepa Hajiev, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy Bermurat Alakbaev, Deputy Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Affairs Kerimberdi Kurbanov, the Chairman of the State Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs Rahimberdi Jepbarov and Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank Myratdurdy Orazdurdyyev.
All meetings reconfirmed the Government's readiness to start the preparation of the MFTR and discussed training and capacity building needs to advance the accession process. At the end of the visit, a calendar of activities was agreed on the development of the MFTR in the next 12 months.