ASTANA – The senior officials of the governments of the United States, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan affirmed their common objectives and commitments to improving cooperation and enhancing opportunities for trade and investment as part of the council meeting of the U.S. – Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) held in Samarkand on March 17.
“The United States appreciated economic reforms in Central Asia and highlighted that additional initiatives and capacity building could help create an enabling environment that would encourage foreign investment and private sector activity, including enhancing transparency, predictability, and the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights,” according to a joint statement released by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
According to the American side, it is imperative to stimulate the diversification of economic corridors through more efficient logistics and customs procedures.
The U.S. delegation emphasized the importance of coordinating efforts to drive economic growth through the C5+1 regional diplomatic platform, acknowledging Central Asian partners’ efforts to align domestic labor laws with international labor standards, ensuring that workers can exercise their internationally recognized labor rights.
The meeting participants also welcomed the 2022 launch of a Digital Trade Working Group under the TIFA. They agreed to prioritize broad stakeholder consultation in developing measures governing the digital economy, promoting trusted and secure cross-border data flows, and ensuring the participation of small and medium-sized businesses in global markets.
The participants also explored strategies to create more resilient supply chains in member countries’ vital economic sectors and deepen collaboration to promote trade to improve food and energy security while tackling climate change and growing the green economy.
The participants also addressed Central Asia’s interest in reauthorizing the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, stressing its role in promoting the growth of economic relations between the TIFA member countries.
The meeting also touched upon trade and investment, labor, women’s economic empowerment, intellectual property, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, digital trade, and customs. The sides also reviewed and agreed to prioritize specific recommendations of the five TIFA Council Working Groups.