Supporting regional economic cooperation
Title: Support of regional economic cooperation in Central Asia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Industry & Trade, Kazakhstan; Ministry of Economic Development & Trade, Kyrgyzstan; Ministry of Economic Development & Trade, Tajikistan; Ministry for Foreign Economic Relations, Investments, & Trade, Uzbekistan; Turkmenistan, to be defined
Overall term: 2005 to 2014
Being landlocked, the countries of Central Asia all face similar challenges when it comes to setting up and maintaining a transparent trade system compatible with international practices. Their national development strategies increasingly emphasise the value of international trade in contributing to sustainable economic development, and they include reform measures accordingly. To ensure stable economic growth, attract foreign investment and bring greater prosperity to the people of Central Asia, it is necessary to improve the infrastructure of the region. Effective transport routes must be established, trade barriers dismantled and an atmosphere of mutual trust created. Some import and export procedures between the four countries can still last for weeks while goods are examined and inspected, certificates issued and payments processed.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have appropriate structures and an enabling environment to foster regional and international trade.
On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), since 2006 GIZ has been supporting the four central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in establishing a conducive environment and appropriate structures for regional and international trade.
The project addresses three areas of activity:
- ‘Single windows’ or ‘one-stop shops’ are being introduced, where businesses can submit all relevant documents to a single office. Electronic procedures make it quicker, easier and more transparent for commercial documents to be produced, processed and forwarded.
- The project supports the reform of the quality management infrastructure for foreign trade. The private sector is encouraged to get involved so that they can align themselves increasingly with internationally recognised norms and standards. Recognised assessments, calibration and certificates (conformity evaluation) ensure that products and services fulfil the regulations for harmonisation, for instance of the European Union.
- Regional consultation and coordination mechanisms bring the relevant players from governments and private sector in the different countries around a single table. The mechanisms help identify and eliminate constraints, and facilitate the introduction of a pro-trade environment.
International agreements and procedures, including the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, are taken into account. These form the basis on which cross-border trade procedures can be simplified and harmonised.
The stage is now set for improved trade. Accreditation authorities, the key institutions in quality management infrastructure, have already been officially recognised in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The first testing laboratories and testing procedures have been brought into line with international regulations. Their accreditation will help ensure worldwide acceptance of certificates and test reports, thereby saving expensive duplicate testing and facilitating the trade in goods.
The programme has supported the training of more than 200 experts and auditors according to ISO standards. Furthermore, 24 experts have taken part in internationally recognised training courses and audits for quality management standards (ISO 9001) and food safety standards (ISO 22000).
The systematic exchange of data between the ‘single windows’ and the systems of the individual customs authorities mean that fewer inspections are needed, which speeds up trade. Better use can be made of the limited inspection capacities, and the potential for corruption on the part of state and customs officials is reduced.
Kyrgyzstan’s single window already acts as an umbrella for nine of the country’s 11 foreign trade institutions. They issue licences and thus facilitate cross-border trade. In 2013, they processed more than 7,400 licences, and in 2014 that figure had risen to over 28,000 e-certificates.
Exchanges of experience and knowledge among the countries is vitally important, both for the single windows, and for the quality management infrastructure. In Kyrgyzstan, GIZ has supported a dialogue between public and private sectors. The resulted in a resolution which reduced the number of documents required for exports from eight to three. In Uzbekistan, the time required for customs clearance of goods for export has been reduced from three days to one.