Enhancing the quality of Uzbekistan’s exports
To ensure its exports are competitive on international markets, the Government of Uzbekistan sought to upgrade its national quality infrastructure (NQI), supporting standardization, accreditation, certification, and metrology (measurement). Through an exchange with Croatia, Uzbekistani officials increased their awareness of policy options and clarified next steps for modernizing the country’s NQI in line with EU and international requirements.
To promote sustainable economic growth, the Government of Uzbekistan (GoU) wanted to diversify its exports to include higher-value technological and finished goods. To ensure Uzbekistan’s exports would be competitive on global markets, the GoU sought to upgrade its National Quality Infrastructure (NQI), which included institutions and systems for standardization, accreditation, certification, and measurement (metrology) of goods and services.
Among other challenges, the GoU sought to address deficiencies in the country’s legal framework for NQI and support reform of UZstandart – the national agency responsible for NQI – to ensure it conformed to international practices and was eligible to join international quality networks. Uzbekistani officials also wanted to harmonize NQI practices, such as product testing and measurement procedures, with international and European Union (EU) agencies’ standards.
By 2010, the GoU had begun efforts to upgrade NQI through new regulations and Bank-supported technical assistance (TA). Uzbekistani officials wanted to learn about other countries’ legal, institutional, and procedural reforms that might assist their efforts. Consultations initially led to a request for a study tour to Turkey. However, Uzbekistani and Bank officials changed course and organized a visit to Croatia, which had taken steps to align its NQI to EU requirements, and had transitioned from a similar top-down centralized system (former Yugoslavia) to one conducive for a market-oriented economy.
The visit to Croatia took place in April 2012 and involved six officials from the Uzbekistani government and UzStandart. The aim was to increase delegates’ awareness of policy options and programs for NQI and identify next steps. The visit involved two stages:
- Learning Visit to Croatia: From April 1-6, 2012, the delegates traveled to Zagreb for meetings and workshops with NQI agencies and to visit organizations active in the quality assurance process – from product production to commercialization. Delegates visited an organic farming facility, a laboratory that specialized in testing food products, a metrology institute, and the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, where they learned about ways to brand and export products.
- Dissemination Workshop: In June 2012, the GoU organized a workshop to discuss NQI topics with local experts. The delegates and Uzbekistani officials participated, sharing lessons and recommendations from the exchange.
The exchange increased Uzbekistani officials’ capacity to implement NQI reforms, with the aim of promoting export growth. It helped:
- Increase participants’ knowledge and skills in designing and applying NQI policies and programs, including at different stages of the quality assurance chain. Testifying to this gain, delegates in a post-exchange evaluation gave high marks to the visit for improving their knowledge, and they suggested lessons that were useful to their work.
- Enhance awareness of areas for reform and widen the scope for additional learning. Dilshod Rasulov, the Head of Uzbekistan’s Chamber of Commerce, noted that “the export promotion activities . . . in Croatia are very good, and we can implement some activities in Uzbekistan.” Tashtemir Abdullaev, the Chief Metrologist of UZstandart, suggested that “the EU experience of Croatia in metrology, certification, and technical regulation are very good, and these are . . . areas of . . . further collaboration with the World Bank.”
- Uzbekistani officials determine next steps in modernizing NQI. The workshop helped officials clarify a roadmap for NQI and reach agreement on next steps, such as changing legislation for restructuring NQI, establishing an independent accreditation organization, joining international NQI networks, and developing a longer-term national strategy.
- It is important to choose knowledge-providing countries that have pursued similar goals in the face of similar challenges (in this case, both countries sought to align NQI to EU requirements).
- Staff from World Bank Headquarters and Country Offices can play strong roles in helping to organize and facilitate knowledge exchanges.
- Before a study tour, it is helpful for Bank or other technical specialists to review countries’ presentations and learning materials to ensure the transfer of appropriate know-how.
World Bank staff helped to broker connections for this exchange, leveraging their contacts and project experience. Staff in Country Offices provided valuable support in executing logistical tasks from the exchange. The South-South Facility funded the exchange, with a Bank Budget allocation helping to finance the workshop.
The following Croatian officials shared their know-how during this exchange:
- Mr. Miran `kerl, Head of Department, Ministry of Economy
- Ms. Grozdana Vuðan, Legal Advisor, Ministry of Economy
- Mr. Tomislav Petroviæ, Head of Department, Ministry of Agriculture
- Ms. Maja Drãiæ, Croatian Agricultural Agency
- Ms. Biserka Bajzek Brezak, Director, Croatian Accreditation Agency
- Mr. Darko Bosnjak, Croatian Accreditation Agency
- Mr. Sasa Grgantov, Independent Accreditation Agent
- Mr. Davor Zvizdic, Director, Croatian Metrology Institute; and Head, National Calibration Laboratory
- Mr. Ranko Tadiæ, Eko Producer
- Mr. Hrvoje Sandukcic
Officials from the German Metrology Institute, a key partner of both Croatia and Uzbekistan, also provided support for this exchange.
This exchange and the workshop were part of a broader program of Bank assistance to help Uzbekistan to improve its NQI framework, which included a report assessing the status of NQI and outlining recommendations for reform. NQI reform in Uzbekistan has been a political issue, and so required raising awareness of key government stakeholders. Taken together, the study tour and workshop helped raise the profile of NQI reform and increase the stakeholders’ capacity to advocate internally for reforms to bring Uzbekistan’s NQI in compliance with international requirements.
The Uzbekistani delegates who participated in the visit to Croatia included the following:
- Tashtemir Abdullaev, Chief Metrologist, Uzstandart
- Khakim Kasimov, Head of the Department, Uzstandart
- Jasur Shukurov, Director of Kashkadarya Regional Branch, Uzstandart
- Nuritdin Abdurahimov, Head of the Department, Ministry of Economy
- Narghiza Zufarova, Head of Department, Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, Investment and Trade
- Dilshod Rasulov, Head of Department, Chamber of Commerce and Industry