As the six CAREC corridors are built, CAREC countries are working together to move people, goods, and vehicles across borders faster, more efficiently, and at least cost. Without these measures, the effectiveness of transport corridors is severely diminished.
The CAREC Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy presents a shared vision of transport and trade facilitation development in the region to 2020, identifying three trade facilitation goals:
- reduce transaction time and costs significantly by improving administrative efficiency, and simplifying, standardizing, and harmonizing trade procedures;
- encourage free movement of people and goods; and
- enhance the transparency of laws, regulations, procedures, and forms, and share information on these and other trade issues.
Several CAREC countries are in the process of developing single-window facilities that will eventually allow traders to lodge information just one time via a single portal to fulfill all import- and export-related regulatory requirements. Ultimately, national single windows will exchange information regionally, expediting transnational journeys on CAREC corridors.
Trade is critical to all CAREC economies. As landlocked nations rich in natural and other resources the ability to efficiently interact with world markets is critical to achieve sustainable economic growth.
CAREC’s Trade Policy Strategic Action Plan (TPSAP) seeks to achieve trade expansion through regional cooperation. The main goals are
- increasing trade openness to stimulate stronger growth and development, contributing to poverty reduction;
- helping all CAREC countries achieve World Trade Organization (WTO) membership; and
- capacity building in the area of trade and trade policy.
The action plan aims to simplify and liberalize national trade regimes within a reasonable timeframe, improving the investment climate across Central Asia. Specific initiatives include uniformly applying value-added and excise taxes on domestically produced and imported goods, cutting tariffs, and eliminating quantitative restrictions on exports and imports.
The TPSAP 2013-2017 builds on and encompasses the agenda of the previous action plan, and expands the agenda into important areas for integrating CAREC countries into the world trading environment: (i) expanding trade in services; and (ii) reducing and rationalizing non-tariff measures, including the trade-impeding impact of sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade.
CAREC Trade Agenda 2030
Under CAREC 2030, support will continue to be provided to member countries with their post-accession commitments under the WTO and accession processes for non-WTO members. Trade priorities also include assessment and identification of new opportunities in the context of the shifting landscape of global and regional trade paradigms; expansion of trade in services and promotion of e-commerce, cross-border labor placements, and tourism services; and development of trade promotion strategies.
The new strategy calls for regional cooperation in the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) through both knowledge and project solutions. Efforts on customs and integrated trade facilitation will be deepened through establishment of national single windows, improvement of border crossing points, customs simplification and harmonization, including alignment with the Revised Kyoto Convention; establishment of a regional transit regime; and development of logistics centers.
To take forward the directions set out in CAREC 2030, and in recognition of the strong linkages between trade policy and trade facilitation issues, a CAREC Integrated Trade Agenda 2030 is currently under preparation.
As of September 2018, $580 billion has been invested in 16 projects to support growth in trade in the CAREC region.