Mr. Meredov emphasized that cooperation with the United Nations and its specialized agencies remained a vital strategy for his country's foreign policy. He stressed the growing importance of Turkmenistan's collaboration with UNCTAD in light of the President's recent political decision to study the possibility of starting the process of accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
A special government commission had been created in Turkmenistan to study that issue. He added that Turkmenistan, along with other countries in the Central Asian region, aimed to integrate into the global economy, including via WTO membership. The Turkmen Government was undertaking efforts to strengthen the country's productive capacity and to develop the business sector. UNCTAD's high level of expertise in the area of WTO pre-accession could be useful for Turkmenistan, he said.
Mr. Supachai commended Turkmenistan's determination to have an open economy and to take the difficult path to WTO accession. He advised the Turkmen Government to take the necessary policy measures to ensure both adaptation of the national economy, and legislation that meets international standards. He promised that UNCTAD would provide every support to Turkmenistan, in terms of capacity-building, and sharing its wealth of expertise, and also by providing practical guidance on each step of the WTO accession process, starting from the initial procedures.
Mr. Meredov noted that the facilitation of trade and customs procedures was another important priority of his country that was closely related to the WTO accession issue. He said that Turkmenistan was working to enhance its trade infrastructure, modernize its customs facilities, create the conditions for fast-track goods clearance, and implement the Single Window concept. He expressed interest in studying UNCTAD's automated solutions that had been implemented in many customs administrations around the world, with a view to using these for the development of Turkmenistan's customs sector.
The Secretary-General of UNCTAD stressed the importance of trade facilitation and customs modernization in view of the momentum towards reducing tariffs in international trade. He said that UNCTAD, through its Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), could provide high-quality technical assistance to Turkmenistan for the modernization and automation of its national customs procedures in line with international standards.
Mr. Meredov extended an invitation to the Secretary-General to visit Ashgabat at a convenient time. The parties also agreed to discuss and prepare a programme for future collaboration in the two above-mentioned areas.
Mr. Supachai met Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov in Ashgabat in October 2010, during the Second International Investment Forum of Turkmenistan.