DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN – Senior customs, transport, and finance officials from the 10 member countries of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program reviewed cross-border transport arrangements for CAREC corridors last week at a seminar in Beijing, People’s Republic of China.

The roundtable seminar reviewed existing cross-border transport arrangements, studied international good practices, and came up with practical recommendations on how to improve transport and trade procedures and processes to ease movement of people and goods.

“While good progress is being made in upgrading physical infrastructure of the six CAREC corridors, much needs to be done to address nonphysical barriers to the cross-border transport and trade along these corridors,” said Asel Chyngysheva, Officer-in-Charge at the Tajikistan Resident Mission of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Under its Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy, CAREC focuses on improving customs cooperation; integrating trade facilitation and developing a seamless network of six CAREC competitive transport corridors linking north, south, east, and west through Central Asia.

A study showed that in 2011, time required to clear a CAREC road border crossing point averaged 6.2 hours, compared with an average of only two hours to cross European borders. Queuing, loading and unloading were major contributors to the inefficiency.

The Tajikistan delegation comprised of senior officials from the President’s Office, Ministry of Transport, and Customs Service.

CAREC promotes project-based cooperation in transport, energy, trade facilitation, and trade policy. The CAREC partnership comprises 10 countries — Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People’s Republic of China, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — and six multilateral institutions: ADB, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and World Bank. ADB has served as the CAREC Secretariat since 2001.

Tajikistan is an active participant and major beneficiary of the CAREC Program, receiving more than $445 million to rehabilitate road corridors from Dushanbe to the Kyrgyz border (Sarytash) and Uzbek border (Tursunzade); modernize customs infrastructure; build power transmission lines connecting Tajikistan and Afghanistan; rebuild the 500kV switchyard at Nurek Hydro Power Plant; and expand and modernize the electricity transmission system.

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