Last week, European Union announced that Uzbekistan has been accepted as the ninth beneficiary of the Special Incentive Agreement for Sustainable Development and Good governance, GSP +, to assist “vulnerable developing countries” to ratify a series of international human rights conventions.
The core benefit of GSP + is the complete elimination of tariffs on two-thirds of all goods on official EU product lists. Tashkent has received some broader preferential treatment under the General System of Preferences (GSP) agreements, but will now see many taxes are reduced to 0 on goods heading to Europe. The country applied to the EU to join the GSP + program in June 2020.
When balance of trade between the EU and Uzbekistan reached 2.3 billion euros in 2019, it has great weight for European exports to Uzbekistan. In 2019, Europe imported 190 million euros of goods from Uzbekistan; that year Europe exported 2.4 billion euros of goods to Uzbekistan. The most recent import into Europe from Uzbekistan was in 2011, at 359 million euros. By 2018, imports reached a decade-low low of 169 million euros. The imbalance aside, there is still room for Uzbekistan’s trade with Europe to develop, especially due to better progress reports in recent years from the intergovernmental International Labor Organization (ILO). forced labor in the cotton industry.
The EU’s pending approval to pursue Uzbekistan’s GSP + has been heralded back in November 2020, with the European Commission coming up with a plan. required law. Uzbekistan has ratified the 27 core international conventions on human and labor rights, environmental and climate protection, and the good governance required by the program. When looking at Uzbekistan’s recent history, the country’s November report on GSP + application notes that after Uzbekistan’s May 2018 Universal Periodic Review, the country accepted 93% of recommendations. given. “The remaining recommendations are related to LGBTQI rights,” the report notes.
The GSP + approval timeline shows a bit of a dilemma on this point.
At the end of March, Blogger and Uzbek activist Miraziz Bazarov ostensibly were assaulted in Tashkent for he urged the government to abolish male sexual relations. Uzbek politics erupted, with state agencies and many social media blaming Bazarov for his own attack for his provocative behavior. Overall, the Uzbekistan government’s anti-LGBTQ stance has clearly doubled.
The November EU report pointed out some “shortcomings” when Uzbekistan complied with various international conventions, but did not see them as “serious failures”, but only as areas of future oversight. hybrids – regulated by the GSP + program – will pay attention. For example, for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, these shortcomings range from the LGBTQ issue outlined above, to broad and ambiguous definitions of “extremism”. used to restrict religious activity and “unduly restrict the right to peaceful assembly in law and practice. Other shortcomings include propiska system, unreasonably heavy demands for NGO registration and the continued criminalization of defamation and insult to the president.
In the end, time is not an opportunity either. Instead of deleting the name of defamation as committed, Uzbekistan recently added Online global listing of means offending the president is illegal.
December 2020Human Rights Watch urges the EU not to quickly accept Uzbekistan for GSP +, concluding that the country’s shortcomings “prolong or continue to cause serious and therefore serious human rights violations in practice. could constitute serious failures for Uzbekistan’s obligations to comply with core human rights treaties. “
However, Uzbekistan was accepted. According to the EU, when a country has been granted a GSP +, the European Commission and Agency for External Action (EEAS) “therefore, must monitor whether the country is in compliance with its commitments” on remaining a party. of mandated international conventions, comply with reporting requirements and accept monitoring. Countries participating in the program are judged on score cards created by the committee on the basis of shortcomings that have been assessed. “[B]those who enjoy… are expected to show their serious efforts towards solving the problems posed in the scorecard, ” an EU information board states clearly.
The system is designed to allow Europe to take its pie (advocate for human rights) and eat it (ignoring the difficult issue of complying fully with ongoing reviews of effort.) is an attempt to balance human rights concerns with economic concerns, for both the EU and developing countries. The results offer differing perspectives on what external agencies, such as the EU, really have regarding Uzbekistan and how best to deploy that leverage to encourage progress on human rights.
Uzbekistan join Armenia, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka in the GSP + group. Many of these countries continue to grapple with serious human rights issues, leading the GSP + program to be criticized for being ineffective in its goals. Last year, the European Parliament threat of revocation of the Philippines GSP + status but Get back from the threat.