A Consultation Mission to different CAREC countries was done from 27 January-7 February 2008 to discuss the work program of the RETA.
The RETA supported the Seminars on Trade Logistics and CAREC Corridor Performance Monitoring on 23 April 2008, Baku, Azerbaijan. The Trade Logistics seminar reviewed the state of trade logistics in several CAREC countries and identified common issues or constraints related to further development. The Seminar on CAREC Corridor Performance Monitoring proposed on comprehensive set of performance measurements to reflect the efficiency or quality of the CAREC transport and trade corridors' three dimensions: (i) physical infrastructure (transport, logistics, and customs); (ii) customs and other trade/transport regulation and procedures; and (iii) trade logistics. The seminars were attended by senior officials of CAREC member countries and observers who were attending the SOM, and representatives of trade logistics and freight forwarders. After the seminars, a separate roundtable meeting was held on 24 April attended by the Union of National Freight Forwarders Association which consists of representatives of national freight forwarders associations of CAREC members.
The RETA supported the CAREC Training Course on Tariff Collection Supervision, 3-12 June 2008, Shanghai, PRC. The CAREC Customs training course on Tariff Collection Supervision will provide an opportunity for CAREC Customs participants to understand tariff collection through theoretical presentations and case studies. Through introducing new managerial concepts and methodologies, this training course aims to promote the capability of Customs participants in terms of policy analysis and addressing practical issues.
The RETA supported the Single Window Dev. for CAREC Trade Customs Officials, 8-10 July 2008 in Singapore. Various single window models used within the region were presented and benefits derived from the successful implementation of single window systems were discussed. The seminar provided participants with insights on how to apply and adapt the single window principles into their own systems. Mongolia and Kyrgyz Republic indicated their specific interests in Singapore. The training program was attended by representatives from CAREC participating countries and observers.
The RETA supported the Workshop on Trade Logistics Development for the CAREC Region, 2-4 September 2008 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and the participants made detailed discussion on (i) the country studies including regional issues or constraints to logistics development, recommendations to address such constraints; and (ii) strategies to promote the development of the logistics sector, encourage public investment as well as strengthen public-private partnerships and regional cooperation projects. The Workshop also included technical sessions on Methodologies Used in Selecting Locations of Logistics Hubs, Performance Measurement and Monitoring for Trade Logistics and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)'s Time-Cost-Distance Methodology. The workshop was attended by CAREC participating countries and observers from different participating multi-lateral institutions.
The RETA supported the 7th Customs Cooperation Committee meeting, 8-9 September 2008, Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyz Republic. The Meeting brought together heads/deputy heads and their representatives of customs administrations in the CAREC region. Plenary sessions of the Meeting were used to discuss progress made and the next steps in priority areas (i.e. rationalization and simplification of customs procedures, joint customs, and regional transit development, ICT, data exchange and capacity building, risk management/post-entry audit, customs intelligence/prevention of customs offences bilateral agreements, integrated trade facilitation and inter-agency coordination and partnerships with business community, and single window development.
Three back to back seminars and workshops were organized on subjects of Joint Customs Control, Customs Cooperation and Trade Facilitation Training Needs Assessment, and Transport and Trade Facilitation Corridor Performance Measurement and Monitoring, 17-24 February 2009, Guangzhou, PRC.
Nine studies (eight on CAREC countries and one regional overview) on Transport and Trade Logistics Development Strategies were published in July 2009. Country studies identified constraints to logistics development and proposed strategies to promote logistics, encourage public investments, and strengthen public-private partnerships.
A Workshop on CAREC Regional Single Window Development, co-sponsored by ADB and the International Enterprise Singapore, was held on 14-17 July 2009 in Singapore. Findings of case studies on pending issues on SW development in selected CAREC countries that are in various stages of implementing SW schemes were discussed during the workshop.
The 8th Customs Cooperation Committee Annual Meeting was held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on 15-16 September 2009 and endorsed the Customs Cooperation elements of the 2010-2011 CAREC Trade Facilitation work program.
ADB is initiating collaboration with other international organizations to measure and monitor CAREC corridor performance. The International Road Transport Union (IRU) is implementing the New Euroasian Land Transport Initiative (NELTI) which facilitates the development of road transport between Europe and Asia and eliminates barriers in international road haulage. In June 2009, ADB and IRU signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly monitor road transport performance in the CAREC region and beyond. The MOU is now being revised and updated to serve as a basis for expanded cooperation going forward.
To address the need for corridor monitoring indicators, ADB and its partner forwarder/carrier and logistics association(s) in each CAREC country signed a memorandum of understanding on Corridor Performance Measurement and Monitoring (CPMM) activities. Data collection by partner forwarder/carrier and logistics associations started in March 2009. CPMM activities are currently being carried out.
A workshop to refine CPMM data collection and submission procedures was organized in conjunction with the inaugural meeting of the CAREC Federation of Carriers' and Forwarders' Associations (CFCFA) in Seoul, South Korea on 12 October 2009. The CFCFA is envisioned to increase private sector participation in trade facilitation programs in the region.
A consultative meeting to discuss the establishment of a CAREC Regional Joint Transport and Trade Facilitation Committee (RJC) was convened 15 October 2009 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The RJC is to be a regional forum comprised of representatives of government agencies responsible for -- and private sector companies engaged in -- transport, trade, and border-crossing activities. Its purpose is to discuss and resolve issues of common interest regarding barriers to trade. Meeting participants committed to study the proposed Terms of Reference and work plan and to nominate members of the RJC by 15 December 2009. The inaugural meeting is scheduled to take place in early 2010.
On 16 October 2009, the CAREC Ministerial Conference endorsed the CAREC Trade Facilitation work plan for 2010 (comprising CPMM, single window development, and improved border management).
The RJC was formally launched at the first RJC meeting in February 2010 in Tashkent,. The RJC Statement endorsed at the meeting clearly described the objective, terms of reference, and the organizational structure of the RJC.
The CAREC Federation of Carrier and Forwarder Associations (CFCFA) was formally launched in March 2010 in Almaty, after adoption of its Constitution and the election of officials. CFCFA is expected to encourage substantial private sector participation into the CAREC trade faciliation programs. CFCFA and CPMM activities are now being funded from R-PATA 7353: Working with the Private Sector in Trade Facilitation.
A CAREC Single Window Implementation Seminar was convened in Baku, 6-8 July 2010 to review and discuss Azerbaijan's experience in designing, developing, and implementing its national single-window system, and consider possible approaches toward the development of a regional platform to facilitate information exchange among CAREC countries. Seminar participants visited the Bilasuvar border-crossing point to observe the system in operation.
Representatives from customs, government trade agencies, and private sector organizations of CAREC countries attended. Development partners UNESCAP, GTZ, and UNECE also participated. The seminar was organized by ADB and the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, and hosted by the World Customs Organization's Regional Training Center in Baku.
The Ninth Customs Cooperation Committee (CCC) Meeting, hosted by the Afghan Customs Department, was held in Tokyo 6-10 September 2010. The annual meeting reviewed progress made since the CCC's inception in 2002, and discussed plans for the next 5 years on how to achieve its objectives in the five identified priority areas: (i) simplification and harmonization of customs procedures and documentation, (ii) information and communication technology for customs modernization and data exchange, (iii) risk management and post-entry audit, (iv) joint customs control, and (v) regional transit development.
Technical working group meetings were held prior to the CCC's ninth annual meeting to review accomplishments in the five priority areas. The meeting also provided training on the objectives and approach of the World Customs Organization's (WCO) Time Release Study (TRS) methodology and single window development, with a focus on learning from Japan's experience in implementing the TRS and a single window.
Japan Customs hosted participants' visit to the Yokohama Port. Participants observed storage management and handling of containerized cargoes, and saw how it is connected to the Nippon Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System, Japan's single window system, and risk management operations by Yokohama Customs.
As part of Asia Pacific Trade Facilitation Week 2010 in Kualu Lumpur 4-7 October, the CAREC Trade Facilitation team shared information on ADB's CAREC and GMS trade facilitation initiatives, contributed to a review of Mongolia's draft single window implementation master plan, and coordinated efforts with external partners active in ADB's countries of operation. ADB's joint CAREC/GMS/OREI exhibit and presentations were well received; copies of the GMS and CAREC brochures, the CAREC Joint Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy and Action Plan, the Trade Facilitation handbook, other relevant ADB publications, and CDs containing Trade Facilitation and Logistics Development Strategy Reports for most CAREC countries were made available to participants. The Mongolia Single Window Implementation Master Plan peer review continued work initiated by UNESCAP in September 2009. Peer review was provided by ADB and members of the UN Network of Experts for Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific (UNNExT). The Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum brought together policymakers and economic operators to exchange views and establish mutual understanding on accelerating the transition to paperless trade documentation. A subregional session for Central Asia sought inputs from CAREC countries on their priorities for moving forward on single window development. The biennial meeting of the Global Facilitation Partnership for Transportation and Trade, organized by the World Bank, placed emphasis on measures to improve trade efficiency within Asia, in part by adopting a risk-based approach to cargo inspection.
A January 2011 Workshop for CAREC National Joint Transport and Trade Facilitation Committees (NJCs) in Bangkok focused on their role in the preparation of a proposed Regional Improvement of Border Services (RIBS) Project. The RIBS Project aims to accelerate the regional cooperation process by facilitating collaborative action through CAREC to remove barriers inhibiting regional travel and trade. The project will improve border-crossing points, logistics, and customs procedures in the region. ADB's regional technical assistance will finance the project preparation.
Workshop participants reviewed potential investment proposals related to border-crossing points and single windows, and discussed the coordination mechanism for the RIBS Project. ADB's project preparation team emphasized the regional public goods feature of the project and the importance of regional cooperation in achieving improvement outputs. The team also presented the project components: criteria for selection of projects; coordination structure to implement the technical assistance, which ADB approved in January 2011 to prepare the RIBS project; and the proposed timeline.
CAREC NJC delegates updated participants on their progress in facilitating trade and the parameters of their possible participation in the proposed project. Country representatives subsequently informed their governments of the project, the timetable for the project preparation, and the loan. Countries have identified focal points for the project.
A CAREC Time Release Study (TRS) Planning Workshop was convened in Tashkent, Uzbekistan 29-31 March 2011. This planning workshop prepared customs officials on how to conduct TRS and analyze the data collected. The TRS is a World Customs Organization (WCO) methodology that provides a snapshot of the effectiveness of customs administrative procedures and allows customs authorities to identify where the bottlenecks are and design reforms to address the identified constraints. It is a tool to measure the results of customs authorities' initiatives in streamlining policies and procedures. The experience of Singapore and of Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area in conducting TRS were shared with the participants. WCO's model terms of reference and other materials for the TRS were presented to serve as a basis for CAREC customized TORs and materials. Participants also experienced a hands-on training session on the WCO TRS software.
TRS in CAREC will support preparation of the proposed RIBS Project, which will improve border-crossing points, help CAREC countries develop national single window facilities, and enhance interconnectivity and inter-operability of national single windows regionally (R-PPTA 7775 - CAREC Transport and Trade Facilitation: Border Crossing Point Improvement and Single Window Development). TRS will also complement the CAREC Corridor Performance Measurement and Monitoring Project (R-PATA 7353) and contribute to the overall CAREC results framework. TRS results will be reported at the 10th Customs Cooperation Committee meeting, CAREC Senior Officials' Meeting, and the Ministerial Conference.
Immediately following the mid-year Senior Officials' Meeting, a CAREC RIBS Project Inception Meeting was organizes in Baku, Azerbaijan 9 June 2011. RIBS project focal points from all CAREC countries, ADB staff, and project preparation consultants (PADECO) met to (i) introduce the PADECO consulting team; (ii) consider the list of border crossing points (BCPs) proposed for inclusion in the project; (iii) identify single-window investment needs that may be supported by the project; and (iv) discuss arrangements for due diligence visits by PADECO to the BCPs. Participants agreed that governments intending to participate in the RIBS Project are expected to (i) identify priority BCPs in their respective countries; (ii) provide security clearance for PADECO consultants to visit the BCPs; and (iii) gather and provide to the consultants relevant information on BCPs and single-window facilities.
A minor change in scope to RETA 6437 was introduced in June 2011 to allow for the conduct of a broad evaluation of ADB's support for trade facilitation in CAREC. The results of the evaluation were reported to the 10th CAREC Ministerial Conference.
The Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Customs Cooperation Committee (CCC) held its Tenth Annual Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan on 19 21 September 2011 to (i) update senior customs officials in the 10 participating countries on progress in the priority areas for customs cooperation and facilitate sharing of lessons learned in implementing projects; (ii) discuss the Medium-Term Priority Projects for trade facilitation; (iii) update CCC members on progress in preparing the proposed Regional Improvement of Border Services project; (iv) discuss the possible impact of the Kazakhstan Russia Belarus Customs Union (CU) on CCC priority areas; and (v) discuss ways to streamline the business processes of the CCC.
The customs administrations of CAREC member countries reported on progress in the five CCC priority areas. All CAREC countries have adopted new and/or amended customs codes as guided by the Revised Kyoto Convention, and made significant progress toward simplifying and harmonizing customs procedures. Most countries are also investing in automated customs information systems. These initiatives stimulated and accelerated the legal and regulatory reforms necessary (such as amending customs codes to be compliant with international standards, standardizing and streamlining documents, and adopting new laws to support e-commerce development) to allow electronic processing of customs clearance procedures. All countries, at varying paces, are moving toward establishing national single windows and upgrading their risk management systems.
As a follow-up to the Time Release Study (TRS) Workshop held in Uzbekistan in March 2011, Mongolia customs reported that they have started to implement TRS in selected border crossing points while Uzbekistan had a special in-country session to train customs officials on how to conduct the TRS. Pakistan and Afghanistan customs also specifically requested that ADB consultants provide on-site training for conducting the TRS in their areas.
The project also supported the Energy Supervision study tour of six customs officials from the People's Republic of China (PRC) to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan from 9-19 July 2011. The main objective of the study tour was to strengthen communication and cooperation among the customs authorities of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and PRC where the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline passes through to ensure its smooth operation. The PRC officials reported that the study has broadened their perspective on the issues on the supervision pipeline transported energy and noted the need for better cooperation amongst the customs authorities.
A change in TA scope was approved 19 December 2011 to (i) support full integration of Pakistan and Turkmenistan into the CAREC Trade Facilitation priority area program, (ii) share with other CAREC countries the experience of these new members in facilitating trade, and (iii) respond to emerging policy issues associated with preparing and implementing the proposed RIBS project (policies possibly involving border management practices, reforms to support the transition from paper to digital documents, and measures to expand interagency and cross-border information exchange).
The TA funded Corridor Performance Measurement and Monitoring in 2012. Quarterly reports have been published. Following the December 2012 increase in TA-7353 budget, Corridor Performance Measurement and Monitoring is being funded again from TA-7353.
A 2-day workshop in July 2012 focused on information exchange and initial steps to develop a sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) action plan of future regional cooperation activities in CAREC to address key SPS concerns that hinder the smooth flow of goods and people in the CAREC region.
The topics covered were the result of SPS assessment in the People's Republic of China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan; SPS best practices in CAREC, the Greater Mekong Subregion, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations; salient provisions of the World Trade Organization on the Application of SMS Measures (SPS Agreement); and application of SMS measures in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
Participants included CAREC trade facilitation sector focal points and senior officials of SPS-related government agencies (e.g., customs authority, ministries of agriculture and health) of all CAREC member countries.
The TA supported conduct of a specialized training program on TRS for Afghanistan and Pakistan customs officials in September 2012. World Customs Organization experts were engaged to conduct the training program.
During 23-25 October 2012 in Chengdu, People's Republic of China, the CAREC Customs Cooperation Committee held its 11th annual meeting to
-review the progress made in priority areas, explore ways to replicate and strengthen positive experiences, and consider new areas for customs cooperation;
-discuss how to strengthen linkages with other border control agencies and institute cooperation mechanisms for more effective consultations with the private sector; and
-agree on the proposed list of trade facilitation investment and technical assistance projects as an input to the Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy midterm review.
PRC's General Administration of Customs (GACC) hosted the meeting, which was attended by senior customs officials of the 10 CAREC member countries. Three roundtable discussions were organized: (i) Aligning CCC Priority Areas with International Best Practices in Trade Facilitation, (ii) Monitoring and Evaluation and (iii) Projects for Trade Facilitation.
GACC Vice Minister Sun Yibiao welcomed the delegates and delivered an opening statement. Asian Development Bank's PRC Country Director Hamid Sharif emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in achieving CAREC goals of accelerating economic growth and reducing poverty in the region.
During 27-28 February 2013 in Astana, Kazakhstan, the Asian Development Bank and World Customs Organization conducted a Workshop on the World Customs Organization Revised Kyoto Convention. Representatives of the 10 CAREC member countries - Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, attended the workshop to:
-raise their awareness and develop an understanding on what is required to comply with and accede to the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC),
-learn about self-assessment tools of the World Customs Organization (WCO) to guide countries during the accession process, and
-identify assistance their countries need to either complete RKC accession requirements or improve compliance.
The RKC, or International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures, is the basis for simplifying and harmonizing customs procedures, and for advocating best practice in customs administration. The adoption and implementation of the RKC by CAREC member countries will increase transparency and efficiency in customs administration, and will contribute in reducing transaction costs and enhancing trade security.
During 20-31 May 2013, ADB and the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China co-sponsored a 2-week workshop and training on customs modernization and management for CAREC countries at the Shanghai Customs College (SCC). SCC is a regional training center for the Asia-Pacific region designated by the World Customs Organization. Senior and mid-level customs officers from CAREC countries learned about and shared their experiences on subjects related to customs modernization and management, including accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention, risk management, and development of e-customs. Field visits and onsite learning were also part of the course program.
On 20 21 August 2013, CAREC and the WCO organized a regional training workshop on TRS in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Customs officials from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan learned how to use TRS and benefited from the experience of Japan and other countries in preparing to conduct TRS.
The Customs Cooperation Committee (CCC), during the 12th CCC meeting held on 18 September 2013 in Astana, Kazakhstan, gave its full support to proposed regional technical assistance (RETA) for (i) Aligning Customs Trade Facilitation Measures with Best Practices, (ii) Coordinated Border Management (CBM) for Results, and (iii) Regional Transit Trade. The first RETA, focusing on behind the border' measures to facilitate trade, aims to promote a harmonized approach to Customs reforms by applying international best practices to support 3 of the 5 CCC priority areas i.e., simplification and harmonization of Customs procedures, strengthening of risk management systems, and use of ICT electronic information exchange. The CBM RETA, focusing on at the border' measures, has three components: benchmarking and monitoring BCPs through TRS, reviewing experience and expanding joint customs control (JCC) pilots, and integrating customs and other border procedures. In support of a fourth priority areas of the CCC ( regional transit trade) , the third RETA aims to identify options for establishing an effective and affordable corridor-based transit regime, and examine the feasibility of implementing a pilot Customs transit regime. Moreover, the member countries have also indicated their support for the refined TTFS, particularly in strengthening capacity building, modernization of border crossing points, and satisfying all the identified output milestones. Senior Customs officials from all CAREC countries attended the meeting together with representatives from CFCFA, WCO, and Japan Customs.
In December 2013, the TA funded translation and publication costs associated with the publication by Mongolian Customs of a multilingual (English-Russian-Chinese-Mongolian) Customs Dictionary.
The TA closed 31 December 2013. Final liquidations are being processed. Financial closure of the TA account is scheduled for 31 March 2014.
A Trade Facilitation Program Coordinator [national consultant] was recruited on 1 July 2008. The consultant will coordinate with CAREC member customs administrations to ensure implementation of the work program; assist in the preparation of technical reports, reference materials and publications for knowledge-sharing disseminating best practices and lessons learned relevant to the trade facilitation initiatives, etc.
Two Integrated Trade Facilitation consultants were recruited in October 2008. The consultants assisted in the implementation of the corridor performance measurement and monitoring system for CAREC countries and the establishment of baseline information on the movement of goods and people along specified CAREC priority corridors.
An International Training Specialist was recruited on November 2008 to recommend a capacity building framework for the Customs Cooperation Committee (CCC), National Joint Transport and Trade Facilitation Committees (NJCs) and Regional Joint Transport and Trade Facilitation Committee (RJC) based on the identified training needs and priorities of the customs officials and key stakeholders in the trade facilitation process of the CAREC participating countries.
An International Consultant was recruited in April 2010 to evaluate the safe packet and joint customs control pilot projects.
An International Consultant was recruited in June 2011 to assist ADB develop a framework for reporting on ADB's technical assistance support for trade facilitation for CAREC. The consultant also assisted in doing initial research to assess the impact of the Kazakhstan-Russia-Belarus Customs Union on the priority areas of work of the CCC.
The TA funded the travel and lodging costs of World Customs Organization resource persons to deliver Time Release Study training courses for CAREC Customs officials in September 2012 and August 2013.