From January to February 2020, the Center for Economic Research and Reforms (CERR) under the Administration of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan conducted an anonymous survey among citizens on "Assessing the impact of a possible entry of Uzbekistan into the EAEU and the WTO." The survey involved research scientists, civil servants, representatives of the private sector, teachers and students.
As previously reported, in January, experts from the Center for Economic Research and Reform completed a study on the impact of a possible entry of Uzbekistan into the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on key sectors of the economy of the republic. At the same time, CERR is conducting a similar study on the impact of Uzbekistan’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on economic sectors, the results of which will be presented shortly. You can get acquainted with the intermediate results of the study on the website of the journal "Economic Review", which contains infographics and analytical articles on current research.
In order to widely familiarize the public with the results of the study on "Assessing the impact of a possible entry of Uzbekistan into the EAEU," on 8-11 January 2020, meetings were organized with the faculty, students, media representatives and bloggers in 14 leading universities of the republic. Based on the results of these presentations, a survey was conducted to further study public opinion.
The questionnaire form was developed on the basis of the study of experience of leading foreign analytical centers. The questionnaire consists of 10 questions, which are structured as follows: first, questions are listed on assessing possible accession to the EAEU, and then questions are asked about public perception of Uzbekistan’s entry into the WTO.
The survey involved over 1300 people from all over Uzbekistan. We characterize the gender composition of the participants in the study. Of the interviewees, a large half - 1,037 people (79%) - men and women - 271 people (21%) of the total number of respondents.
The above data show that the majority of respondents are students - 479 (37%), in the second place are representatives of the private sector - 356 (27%), followed by government employees - 252 (19%), teachers - 155 (12%), scientists / researchers - 53 (4%), other professions - 13 (1%).
The survey results show that 74% of all respondents support the entry of Uzbekistan into the EAEU. 16% spoke out against, 4% of respondents remained neutral, 6% found it difficult to answer.
The study revealed that in the context of regions, entry into the EAEU is most supported by Jizzakh, Surkhandarya and Khorezm regions (more than 90%). Among women supporting entry more than men (82% versus 73%). Moreover, most of all the possible accession to the EAEU is supported by young people - less than 20 years old and those who are over 40 years old (80%).
The share of those who oppose joining the integration association dominates in Andijan region (32%), the city of Tashkent (26%) is in second place, followed by Ferghana region (21%).
The proportion of those who do not support the entry of Uzbekistan into the EAEU is higher among citizens 30-39 years old (23%). At the same time, the analysis showed that the majority of those who support entry are among teachers, students and representatives of the private sector (76%) than among academic researchers and public sector workers (66%).
45% of respondents indicated that the main risk upon entry may be imports from third countries (not members of the EAEU), which will be replaced by products from Union countries. 42% of respondents fear that as external competition intensifies, domestic production and jobs will decrease. Least of all the population fears a reduction in state budget revenues - 13% of respondents.
The population believes that the main advantage of joining the Eurasian Economic Union is a reduction in prices for goods and services, as well as an increase in product quality as a result of improving the competitive environment - 51% of respondents.
The second advantage of the entry is considered by the citizens of Uzbekistan to expand the export market of domestic products, which will create new jobs - 24%.
15% of respondents are sure that the entry will improve the conditions for labor migrants. At the same time, 10% replied that as a result of the formation of a common labor market, the interstate flow of labor will become freer.
It should be noted that more than 200 people participating in the survey left their comments on the benefits and risks of joining the EAEU.
On 29 April, deputies approved the cooperation of Uzbekistan with the EAEU as an observer. The issue of cooperation between Uzbekistan and the EAEU was considered by deputies during the next plenary meeting of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis. As noted in his speech, the First Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis Akmal Saidov, a sociological survey conducted by the Center for Economic Research and Reform serves as the basis for a scientific study of public opinion on this issue.
In general, the overwhelming majority of survey participants support Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO - 78% of respondents. At the same time, 8% were against joining, the same number remained neutral, 7% found it difficult to answer.
By regions, WTO accession is most supported in Navoi, Surkhandarya regions, as well as in the Republic of Karakalpakstan (84-91%). The proportion of those who are against Uzbekistan’s entry into the WTO is highest in the city of Tashkent (13%), Tashkent region (18%) and Andijan region (12%).
The survey showed that the proportion of citizens supporting WTO accession is the same for both women and men (78%). At the same time, there are more men who do not support entry (9% versus 5%).
Most of all, entry is supported by young people under 20 years old (86%). The study participants who oppose Uzbekistan’s entry into the WTO turned out to be the largest among those over 40 years old (68%).
Teachers and students (84%) voted the most for joining the WTO, and representatives of the private sector less (70%).
The greatest danger to citizens of World Trade Organization membership is caused by control over the main sectors of the economy, which can be transferred to foreign entrepreneurs - 44% of respondents expressed concern.
42% of respondents see risks in increasing imports of goods and services, which will reduce the activity of national enterprises. 14% of respondents fear a reduction in government revenue.
The main advantage of joining the WTO is the improvement of the competitive environment, lower prices for goods and services and increase their quality - 34% of respondents.
The second positive effect of Uzbekistan’s accession to the WTO, respondents consider improving trade relations with developed countries, increasing imports of high technology in the national economy - 23% of respondents.
16% of respondents believe that national production and jobs will increase as a result of an increase in the flow of foreign investment and the number of foreign enterprises. The same number of respondents said that expanding the export market will increase national production and create new jobs.
11% of respondents in the survey said that joining the WTO will improve the international image of Uzbekistan.