Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan Renew Interest in WTO

States in Central Asia have recently renewed their interest in joining global organizations such as the World Trade Organization. Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, two of the more economically prosperous Central Asian states, have expressed their desire to join the WTO as they continue to position them in an ever-changing Central Asia. Uzbekistan is currently listed as an ‘observer’ nation to the WTO, though it recently outlined a series of conditions that make full accession to the WTO an enticing possibility, and two of the more interesting factors were the organization’s intrinsic ability to facilitate bilateral and multilateral trade talks with growing nations, as well as the educational value (training seminars, conferences, etc.) that is made available to WTO members.

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan will likely face criticism as they seek to increase their global presence due to the oft-cited human rights abuses and torture allegations that have come to characterize organizations. Other factors, such as corruption and unsavory economic practices such as forced takeover of private enterprises by national governments, as in the case of Uzbekistan, could nevertheless make the two nations’ desire to join the WTO more of a pipe dream than a serious possibility. The WTO has not issued statements expressing its intention to elevate the status of Uzbekistan to a full member, and Turkmenistan has not yet placed a formal bid to join the organization, though its path to accession has been laid out and in 2013 established a new state commission dedicated to joining the WTO.

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