The European Union (EU) has reportedly confirmed its readiness to promote the provision of customs preferences to Uzbekistan that will allow Uzbekistan to supply its textile products to Europe free of duty.

The Uzbek MFA notes that getting zero rate of customs duties from tte European Union means that more than 6,200 items of Uzbek goods will enter the customs territory of the European Union free of duty. says the agreements have been reached during the 14th session of the EU-Uzbekistan Cooperation Council that took place in Brussels on November 22.  

During the negotiations with Uzbek officials, the EU representatives reportedly promised to help Uzbekistan get GSP+.

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) allows originating products from a range of countries to be imported into the European Union (EU) at a reduced or zero rate of duty.

GSP+ is an extension to the GSP system - it includes developing countries which have proved their commitment to sustainable development and good governance. Most duty rates are 'zero' under this part of the scheme.

Under GSP, preferences are 'non-reciprocal'.  This means that goods imported into the EU from a number of developing countries are liable to reduced or nil rates of duty.  The GSP system does not apply to exports from the EU.

Meantime, European Council’s website says the EU-Uzbekistan Cooperation Council reviewed the positive development of bilateral relations, including cooperation in support of Uzbekistan's reforms, the rule of law, trade, investment and energy relations, as well as regional and international issues. The Cooperation Council also discussed questions of good governance and strengthening civil society, as well as measures to improve the business climate.

The EU reportedly welcomed Uzbekistan’s commitment to apply for WTO and GSP+ membership (the EU General System of Preferences that unilaterally grants duty-free access for most goods).  The EU and Uzbekistan also discussed human Rights and governance in an open and constructive manner. Uzbekistan has made considerable efforts to ensure that both child and forced labour remain concerns of the past.

Uzbekistan reportedly expressed strong interest in the preparation of a new EU strategy on Central Asia and in the implementation of the EU Strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia adopted by the EU in October.  Both topics were discussed at the EU – Central Asia Ministerial Meeting in Brussels on November 23, 2018.

Relations between the European Union and the Republic of Uzbekistan have been developing steadily since its independence in 1991.  EU relations with Uzbekistan are embedded in the regularly reviewed EU and Central Asia Strategy for a New Partnership, which outlines the overall cooperation objectives, policy responses and priority fields for the EU's engagement in Central Asia.  A Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the EU and the Republic of Uzbekistan which has been in force since 1999 paved the way for a broader bilateral relationship.  Political dialogue; trade in goods; business and investment; intellectual, industrial and commercial property protection; legislative cooperation; economic cooperation; cooperation on matters related to democracy and human rights; cooperation on prevention of illegal activities; cultural cooperation and financial cooperation in the field of technical assistance are all covered in the PCA.

Since 2017, the new leadership of Uzbekistan has been requesting a formal upgrade of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).  On July 16, 2018 the Council adopted the negotiation mandate for the opening of negotiations between the EU and Uzbekistan for an upgraded, Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA).