Tai Sweeps the Steppes


U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai convened the 15th U.S. - Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting in Kazakhstan Friday, capping a week of yakking with envoys from the host country as well as the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The TIFA meeting included all parties, along with observer delegates from Pakistan.    Working groups discussed customs & border procedures, agriculture topics, digital infrastructure and intellectural property protection.    Women's economic inclusion and labor standards were promoted by the US delegation.  There was no mention in the TIFA readout of the growing transshipment of restricted goods and technology to Russia through Central Asian trade routes.

Earlier in the week Ms. Tai met with government officials in Samarkand.  "Ambassador Tai welcomed engagement on reforms in Uzbekistan as well as Uzbekistan’s interest in the expeditious termination of the application of the Jackson-Vanik amendment," according to a USTR statement.

The Jackson–Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974 limits trade relations with countries with non-market economies (originally, countries of the Soviet Bloc) that restrict freedom of Jewish emigration and other human rights.  In September Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) introduced legislation [S.2748] to end the Cold War-era trade restrictions for Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan and grant those countries permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status.

Ms. Tai also applauded fforts to bring Uzbekistan’s trade facilitation measures into conformity with the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and the liberalization of US meat and poultry imports by Uzbekistan as of June 1, 2024.  


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