WTO dedicated session on transit is moderated by Kazakhstan

According to press service of the Kazakh MFA, the WTO dedicated session on transit for landlocked developing countries “Overcoming problems in trade and transit operations” was moderated by Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the World Trade Organization and International Economic Organizations Zhanar Aitzhan. An in-depth study of best practices, including constraints and challenges faced by landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and the exchange of experience of WTO member countries to identify best practices and recommendations in the implementation of transit operations are the purpose of this workshop. Ambassador of Paraguay Raul Cano Riccardi, Chairman of the WTO Committee on Trade Facilitation Carlos Guevara, experts from the World Bank, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, the World Customs Organization, as well as representatives of government agencies of Mongolia, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Gabon and Eswatini were the keynote speakers of the event. As the Permanent Representative Aitzhan noted in her opening speech, the brunt of limited access to maritime ports, longer transport distances and higher transit costs is born by the LLDC countries, separated from the coastlines and major international trade routes. The Ambassador of Kazakhstan developed this idea and added that the ability of LLDCs to fully integrate into global trade was impeded by these hindrances, economic growth and sustainable development are being hampered and poverty reduction is efforted. The crucial role of the implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) in facilitating of the flow of goods across the border was also noted by the Permanent Representative Aitzhan. He recommended to improve transport links, to use digital technologies and to reduce trade costs through digital processing of customs data, including the electronic platform of UNCTAD “ASYCUDA”. A UNCTAD expert said that the results of a transit survey among WTO member countries showed that implementing the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation helps identify such major problems as collaboration across borders, varying formalities and procedures with neighboring countries, capacity issues (due to high of staff), lack of a national transit coordinator, etc. The implementation of a Regional System of Customs Transit Guarantees to solve delays at border crossing points, long vehicle turn-around/transit time, as well as simplify the customs clearance process and reduce the cost of the guarantee by COMESA was noted by the expert of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in his presentation. Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the African Export-Import Bank have a fully operational system, while the process of fully joining this customs system in Congo, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia is in progress. According to the representative of the Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, Ariunaa Adiya, the priorities for her country in the implementation of the TFA are the introduction of a Single Window for export-import and transit operations, modernization of transport infrastructure and increased competition in the transport services market, the creation of dry or multimodal ports, the introduction of paperless trade solutions in the field of customs clearance as well as digitalization delivery services to ensure uninterrupted processing and mail tracking. LLDC members were urged by the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan Aitzhan to accelerate the implementation of tools developed by international organizations, particularly by UNCTAD, to reduce transit time and costs, simplify trade procedures, increase transparency and ensure certainty in cross-border trade.

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