Harmonization and simplification of customs procedures between TRACECA countries

According to Secretary General of the Permanent Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Commission (PS IGC) TRACECA Asset Assavbayev, harmonization and easing of customs procedures has always been one of interests of TRACECA countries.
This statement was made during the first virtual workshop on customs issues along the routes (Europe-Caucasus-Asia).
The press service said that the harmonization and simplification of customs transit procedures, also mechanisms for systematic exchange of information between customs authorities were discussed by the Secretary General and the member countries of the Basic Multilateral Agreement on International Transport for Development of the Europe-the Caucasus-Asia Corridor (MLA) TRACECA.
According to the press service, the support and the simplification of customs procedures at border crossings and seaports along TRACECA in order to facilitate the movement of goods were the main objective of the seminar.
They also mentioned that multimodal transport through the territory of several countries, accompanied by modal shifts, characterizes TRACECA routes connecting Europe, the Caucasus and Asia.
Additional processing time is required for goods transportation through border crossings and seaports in TRACECA transit countries. Certain formalities related to paperwork and customs procedures are also needed for modal shifts.
According to TRACECA, the issues of permanent interest to its member states, which are striving to improve communication along the whole Europe-Caucasus-Asia corridor, are harmonization and simplification of procedures generally, improvement of the efficiency of customs transit regimes, simplification of customs formalities, optimizing of border crossing operations and improvement of the efficiency of seaports.
The need to simplify traffic and reduce border crossing times, which is important for the attractiveness of TRACECA corridor routes, was also noted by Assavbayev.
He said that one of the most important issues to be addressed in order to improve border crossing efficiency were customs procedures at border crossings and seaports, and the goal of facilitating international transport along our route can be significantly contributed to by the exchange of experience and harmonization of policies related to the implementation of international customs transit systems.
An overview of customs transit systems along TRACECA routes was proposed to be developed, and a meeting between member countries to be organized to gain access to a common transit convention. The research and consideration of simplified customs transit procedures in more detail was the result of the last seminar.
They also proposed the usage of advance cargo information, also the development of mechanisms for the systematic exchange of information between customs authorities in selected TRACECA countries (where such mechanisms currently do not exist) during the last seminar. The second workshop on customs issues in October 2022 will give the opportunity to discuss all these topics further.

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3.5 fold increase of Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan railroad transportations

According to the Kazakhstan Temir Zholy company’s office in Baku, railroad transportations between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan increased more than 3.5 fold in January-May 2022 against the same period in 2021.
1,388,100 tons of cargo was transported between JSC NC Kazakhstan Temir Zholy and CJSC Azerbaijan Railways (increased by 1,088,800 tons or by 364% compared to the same period in 2021).
Grain shipment made the volume of exports to Azerbaijan rise by 128,300 tons or 6.1-times. The shipment of oil products and ferrous metal caused the growth of transportation through Azerbaijan by 884,600 tons, or 13.5 times. An increase in the transportation of chemicals and soda made imports to/through Azerbaijan rise by 72,800 tons or by 115%.
Growth of foodstuffs transportation made transit transportations rise by 3,100 tons or by 2%.
The Azerbaijani Center for Agrarian Research announces that in January-May 2022 export of Kazakhstan’s grain to Azerbaijan made 146,900 tons and amounted to $49.1mln.
The increase of the volume of exports amounted to 2218.4%, and to 2834.4% in monetary terms, compared to January-May 2020 (6,300 tons).
The rise of the share of Kazakhstan’s grain in Azerbaijan’s imports amounted to 41.1%.

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More than USD 135 Million is attracted in investments by Local Startups in 2021

According to Nenad Popovic, the minister in charge of innovations and technological development, the latest issue of the regular annual report of the American organization Startup Genome highlights the excellent results of the Serbian startup ecosystem.
Serbia was announced to be a world leader in attracting foreign direct investments per capita.
The website of the Government of Serbia emphasizes on the increase by 600% compared to the previous year in 2021 (local startups had attracted over USD 135 million in investments) and on the realization of over USD 1.7 billion in tech-sector export revenues.
According to the minister, the extraordinary work of Serbian engineers, innovators, technical faculties, private initiatives such as the Digital Serbia, legal and strategic acts adopted by the state in the preceding five years, as well as other systemic measures of the government and its institutions and organizations made the positive trend in the development of the innovation ecosystem of Serbia possible.
This report says that the adoption of the Strategy of the Development of the Startup Ecosystem from 2021 to 2025 is one of the most important steps forward, aimed to accelerate the development of the startup ecosystem and incite innovations.
The upgrade of the infrastructure and support programs, the affirmation of entrepreneurial education on all levels is entailed by this. 1,200 active startups in Serbia is the overall goal.
They rate gaming and the blockchain sector as the strongest ones in the ecosystem of Serbia. Over 2,200 people were employed by the gaming industry in 2012, and the income close to EUR 200 million was realized by it.
So, Nordeus’ becoming part of Take Two is especially important. It has also made Serbia a top destination for the development of blockchain-based products.
The amount of USD 58.6 million was precisely the one of the most noticed investments received by the blockchain development platform Tenderly.
The high level of activities and the development of programs and organizations which provide support to local startup teams, such as the Group of Business Angels, founded by the Digital Serbia Initiative, were recognized as the main advantages by the report.

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Moldova takes measures to support freight carriers.

A meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu, Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development and several freight operators was held yesterday. The flow of traffic at border crossings, the liberalization of road freight transport with the European Union and the price of road transport permits was discussed during this event.
The institution claims that in order to reduce the waiting time for freight trucks at border crossing points, rapid measures to streamline traffic and unblock the situation at customs were taken by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development (MIDR) together with the relevant authorities.
According to MIDR, they have set up a joint group to coordinate the actions of the Moldovan and Romanian authorities at border crossing points in order to reduce waiting times for lorries; the Leușeni-Albița border crossing point is the first customs point of the Moldovan-Romanian joint team; the Romanian side operationalizes the customs control with the help of several electronic document processing devices; they organize the flows of goods according to the load. For example, empty trucks may cross in transit through low-capacity crossing points.
They have also increased the number of customs workers to raise the processing rate and the customs activity’s efficiency; they synchronized the work schedule between the control teams from the Republic of Moldova and Romania and made the phytosanitary and sanitary-veterinary authorities in Romania operate on a 24/7 basis; special services check and present the status of the functionality of scanners, scales and other truck scanning and checking technologies at each border crossing point.
The minister mentioned a decrease of the price of road transport permits to 5 euros. CEMT authorizations will cost 150 euros for an annual authorization and 40 euros for a monthly authorization.
The participants also discussed the liberalization of bilateral freight and transit services between EU member states and the Republic of Moldova during the meeting. According to Andrei Spinu, an Agreement between Moldova and the EU MIDR is being negotiated about. It will enter into force provisionally from the time it is signed, possibly at the end of June.

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A deal with Turkey to add services to free trade agreement is revealed.

According to Genadi Arveladze, the Deputy Economy Minister of Georgia, the free trade agreement between Georgia and Turkey will be amended by the two states to make it easier for businesses to sell their services to the two markets. This decision was made following his meeting with Mustafa Tuzcu, the Deputy Minister of Trade of Turkey.
The dialogue between the two officials took place on the sidelines of the World Trade Organisation’s 12th Ministerial Conference. As it was announced by Georgia’s Economy Ministry on Tuesday, they agreed on talks to add trade in services to the deal “in the near future”.
According to Arveladze, Turkey is Georgia’s “largest trading partner”. He also added that the amendment to the agreement would increase bilateral trade turnover and would be “equally beneficial” for both countries.
The “difficult geopolitical situation” in the Black Sea region on the backdrop of the conflict in Ukraine, and opportunities for further intensification of bilateral trade and economic relations were also discussed by Georgian and Turkish officials.
They also noted during the meeting that Turkey is ranking first among Georgia’s largest trading partners (15 percent share, along with a 28 percent growth in bilateral trade turnover and a 23 percent increase of Georgia’s exports in the first quarter of 2022).
According to the ministry, Georgia officially joined the initiative to regulate trade in services by countries with advanced economies in the framework of the Ministerial, and they set Arveladze to hold bilateral meetings with the heads of trade delegations of various countries.
The functioning of the multilateral trading system was reviewed at the Conference that took place in Geneva, Switzerland, between June 12-15 and gathered ministers from across the world.

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UK Uzbekistan trade and investment cooperation is planned to be increased

The meeting between deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan Sardor Umurzakov and the British Deputy Secretary of State for International Trade (Minister for Exports) Mike Freer has taken place.
The Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade (MIFT) says that representatives of the London Stock Exchange and the financial corporations “Standard Chartered” and “TheCityUk” were also included in the British delegation.
They discussed the current state and prospects for deepening the Uzbek-British partnership in the field of investment, trade and industry during the meeting.
The positive trends in the development of mutual trade were noted with satisfaction: in 2021, the volume of trade between the two countries rose up by 65%, while exports from Uzbekistan to the UK grew up by 2.5 times. Uzbekistan’s obtaining the status of a beneficiary of the Great Britain’s Enhanced Generalized System of Preferences scheme (“GSP Enhanced Framework”) facilitated this. 2022 continues to show the positive dynamics in bilateral trade: in January and April, trade showed growth by 68% compared to the same indicator last year. Uzbek exports to the United Kingdom rose up by 2.6 times.
They reached an agreement on the development of joint measures to attract British investors to the creation of joint export-oriented industries in Uzbekistan. The preferences of the GSP Enhanced Framework system are also beneficial for the organization of trainings and workshops and for Uzbek manufacturers and exporters.
The delegations also discussed the prospects for intensifying investment cooperation. They emphasized on the 40% increase of the number of British enterprises operating in Uzbekistan over the past few years. Representatives discussed the prospects for cooperation in the framework of attracting new British companies to implement projects in the field of processing agricultural products, animal husbandry, biopharmaceuticals, the textile industry, information and communication technologies and green energy.
The agreement to intensify work on the preparation of the 26th Uzbek-British Trade and Industry Council (UBTIC), which will be held in October this year in Tashkent, was achieved by the parties. Ties between the business circles of the two countries will be strengthened by the event, as well as new “growth points” for economic partnership will be identified and British investment and technology will be attracted to promising sectors of the economy of Uzbekistan.
The results of the meeting permitted to determine the format of further interaction within the framework of each of the considered areas of cooperation.

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Goods transit through Turkmenistan is permitted

Transit cargo transportation through the territory of Turkmenistan has been allowed to carry out since June 1.
The Transport Ministry of Uzbekistan announces that drivers of vehicles of foreign states move around the country through the checkpoints “Serakhs (Iran) – Serakhs (Turkmenistan)”, “Farab (Turkmenistan) – Olot (Uzbekistan)” and “Sarakhs (Turkmenistan) – Sarakhs (Iran)”.
The following requirements and conditions must be respected during transit cargo transportation across the country:
– all the documents necessary for registration of the process of transit traffic must be provided by drivers of vehicles of foreign states when crossing the state border of Turkmenistan to undergo special sanitary procedures;
– sanitary treatment in accordance with the established procedure is obligatory for motor vehicles;
– a negative PCR test (passed at least 72 hours before crossing the state border), a certificate of vaccination against COVID-19 (at least 42 days from the date of the last vaccination) must be provided when crossing the border,;
– you must take an express test for COVID-19 at border checkpoints;
– the organizational set of cars (trucks) cargo will carry out the transportation through the territory of Turkmenistan;
– they will form convoys of trucks at a distance of 1 kilometer from the Uzbek-Iranian border;
– the motorcade starts to be created at 08:00 in the morning;
– special vehicles of the traffic police control a convoy of trucks. Drivers mustn’t park and leave the cab while driving;
– a column of freight vehicles can stop only at specially designated parking lots for drivers to rest, maintain vehicles, refuel and purchase necessary food products;
– vehicles that have malfunctions or other problems during the movement, are separated from the convoy. In this situation, practical assistance in solving the problem is provided by the employees of the internal affairs bodies, in cooperation with the Turkmen Road Transport Agency.

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Kazakh – Polish bilateral trade attains $760mln

OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Zbigniew Rau was received by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
He emphasized on the importance of this visit for strengthening of cooperation between Kazakhstan, Poland and the OSCE.
The preparations for the upcoming national referendum were spoken about by the President and the deployment of an ODIHR Referendum Assessment Mission was welcomed.
According to the Head of State, a process of important political transformations in the country began with the referendum. He also promised to carry out the work to promote democracy in Kazakhstan continuously.
Cooperation in all three areas of the OSCE (military-political, economic-environmental and human dimensions) was reviewed in detail by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Zbigniew Rau.
The President noted that Poland was regarded as an important partner in Central Europe.
According to the leader of Kazakhstan, Bilateral trade has been rose up by 12% last year, attaining $ 760 million.
The efforts made under Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s leadership in implementing large-scale political and economic reforms were commended by The OSCE Chairman-in-Office.
The Polish diplomat thinks that the upcoming referendum is a real breakthrough in terms of Kazakhstan’s Constitutional amendments and approach to social structure and promotion of market oriented reforms. He added that the constitutional reforms in the country are aimed at strengthening the principles of democracy, freedom and the rule of law.
The meetings of Zbigniew Rau with representatives of religious communities and civil society of the country were announced. The Kazakh model of interethnic and interfaith harmony was highly valued by him, and he expressed gratitude to President Tokayev for the constant support of the Polish diaspora living in our country.

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Georgia’s freight turnover increased after modernization.

According to the report of Georgian-based non-governmental organization Society and Banks, revenues from transport services in Georgia would increase by about $150 million in April compared to 2021 and exceed $960 million in the ongoing year.
As Georgian Railway Director General Davit Peradze announced on Business Morning TV program on Monday, about 21 more million tons of cargo will be carried annually by Georgian Railway after the completion of the modernization of the network in the country.
According to Peradze, 27 million tons of freight is carried by the company per year, and an annual load reaches 12-13 million tons (the figure would attain 48 million after the modernization).
The local business online media outlet bm.ge cited Peradze: “The growth trend of the Georgian Railway has not stopped for the last four years, with a “record rate” of 10 percent increase observed in freight in 2021”.
The challenges the company is facing, including the lack of locomotives, an upgrade of the existing fleet, and further improvements to railway tracks, were also spoken about.
A profit of ₾23.5 million had been generated by the Georgian Railway in the first quarter of this year, according to the Director General.
The reports of the company announce a profit of ₾52,711 ($18,399/€17,179) in 2021 following four years of operating losses, with the consolidated revenue of the company reaching ₾547,868 ($191,237/€178,458) last year, compared to ₾489,370 ($170,818/€159,369) in 2020, in addition to about ₾164,000 ($57,245/€53,381) of losses.

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3.5 times more IT Park residents in Q1

3.5 times more new residents appeared in the technology park compared to the same period in 2021.
IT Park counted 1,588 companies in April. According to the technopark press service, 65 new residents have appeared since the beginning of the year.
80 companies became residents in January-March – three times more compared to the same period of last year. 23 out of these companies were established at the beginning of the year, 14 firms lost their status. The technopark rejected 43 companies.
The majority of the companies of the IT Park residents (479) work in the capital, but IT companies in the regions become more numerous– 109 (growth up by 18.5%).
Services worth 814 billion soums, were provided by IT Park residents during the reported period (increased by 186%, or almost three times). Software development, data processing, business process automation and training were the main spheres.
The export of services engages 121 technopark resident companies.
$17.3 million were earned by exporters in the first quarter (increase by 3.5 times compared to 2021). By the end of the year, this amount should attain $100 million.
The USA holds the most significant part in the geographical structure of exports, which increased to 85.2%. The UK, the UAE, South Korea and the CIS countries share the rest.
The task to increase digital exports to $1 billion was set by the head of the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications Sherzod Shermatov at the end of 2021. Simplified visa issuance for IT specialists and technology investors was one of the measures he recommended.
The TashRush program was created to implement the minister’s instruction practically and to attract foreign IT workers. Anther measure was the introduction of special visas and simplified employment for them.
The move of IT companies, working with foreign clients, from Russia and Belarus to the country began. About 1,000 workers from Russia and Belarus were moved here by EPAM.

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