DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN - Kubanychbek Mamaev, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Kyrgyz Republic, and Olimjon Boboev, Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Tajikistan, today signed a Cross-Border Transport Agreement (CBTA) that will promote bilateral and regional trade. This is the first CBTA signed under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program.

The CBTA, developed with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), aims to smooth the movement of people and goods across borders in Central Asia. Obstacles to that include poorly equipped border posts; excessive and expensive documentation in customs, immigration, and quarantine; and road permit quotas that restrict competition and slow trade.

These obstacles significantly bloat travel time. At border points along CAREC's Corridor 5, which runs from the People's Republic of China through the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to Pakistan, vehicles spend an average of six hours waiting to reach the checkpoint, four hours undergoing customs inspection, and two hours at police checkpoints.

"We hope this landmark event will make it easier for people and products to cross borders, boost trade, support economic growth, and promote regional cooperation," said Zhao Xiaoyu, ADB Vice-President (Operations 1), who was present at the signing ceremony in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

The CBTA between the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan was finalized following five meetings between the two countries since negotiations started in May 2009. The two governments are expected to ratify the agreement in the first half of 2011 with a view to starting implementing it shortly thereafter.

Under the CBTA, the two countries are expected to improve cross-border infrastructure and facilities, simplify and harmonize cross-border procedures, and ensure that all officials working at the border posts are well informed and trained.

Founded in 1997, CAREC is a partnership of 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 the World Bank. ADB has served as the CAREC Secretariat since 2001.

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