Key stakeholders from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan came together in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, on May 11-13 to discuss common challenges and joint solutions for simplification of trade procedures for deepened intra-regional and international trade.

Funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Ready4Trade Central Asia project in close cooperation with national stakeholders organized a three-day Regional Meeting on Simplification of Trade Procedures in Central Asia: “From Domestic Roadmaps to Regionally Coordinated Trade Facilitation Reforms.”

According to ITC National Office in Tajikistan, more than 80 participants from Central Asia and Europe discussed emerging trends and synergies in simplification of trade procedures for deepened regional cooperation.

Speaking at the session, EU Ambassador to Kazakhstan Kestutis Jankauskas noted, "Today's challenges require quick and balanced decisions to revitalize the business ties, engage SMEs in international trade in order to increase export volumes.  The analysis prepared by the EU-funded Ready4Trade project contains practical recommendations how to boost supply chains, simplify export and import procedures for specific goods in Central Asia so that these countries can sell more to the EU and other world markets.”

Elena Boutrimova, Chief of the ITC Office for Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, who oversees the implementation of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project noted, "This regional meeting presents a rare opportunity, for decision makers and technical level specialists from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to get together and discuss common challenges associated with customs and border management as well as potential joint reforms.  Today we are gathered to bring these recommendations together at the regional level and derive from those concrete and actionable steps.”

In one of the components of the R4TCA, referred to as “Addressing obstacles to trade”, ITC has reviewed the step-by-step export/import procedures for 10 trade flows originating from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan to identify gaps, overlaps and bottlenecks in trade legislation and procedures. Based on the results of the analysis, the project has developed concrete recommendations for procedural simplification, which have been presented and consulted with public and private stakeholders at the national level. The developed recommendations have been presented to national stakeholders in the format of roadmaps for simplification and optimization of cross-border trade procedures, containing key reform activities and suggested solutions to address procedural bottlenecks. The proposed roadmaps have been consulted extensively with public and private stakeholders at the national level. 

The event reportedly became a platform to build consensus on procedural simplification reforms that require bilateral and regional coordination and prioritize their implementation in the framework of the Ready4Trade project. 

The Ready4Trade Central Asia aims to support the development of intra-regional and international trade in five Central Asian countries.  The 4-year initiative is a trade component of a larger EU-funded program which aims to support Investment, Competitiveness and Trade, thus contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic development in the region.  The Ready4Trade Central Asia project is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre.