DUSHANBE, February 28, Asia-Plus  -- Customs barriers and poor awareness of laws regulating foreign economic activity are among main factors impeding trade and economic cooperation between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, Nemat Rahmatov, First Deputy Chairman of the Customs Service under the Government of Tajikistan, noted at the international conference on Tajik-Afghan border management and cross-border cooperation in Dushanbe on February 28.

Organized by the Embassy of Japan in Dushanbe and the Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan under support of EU/UNDP BOMCA and BOMNAF Programs, a two-day conference to discuss ways to enhance border management and cross-border cooperation between Tajikistan and Afghanistan was launched today.

According to him, trade between Tajikistan and Afghanistan has increased 3.4 times over the past four years.  Tajik customs official, however, stressed that increase in trade volumes also increases risks of movement of prohibited goods such as narcotics via border.    “It is necessary to lay legal foundation of efficient interaction to prevent movement of narcotics and other prohibited goods via the border,” Rahmatov said, noting that further expansion of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries will depend on efficiency of work of the customs services.

The Conference was designed within the framework of initiatives identified at the EU-Japan summits that took respectively place in Tokyo on 28 April 2010 and in Brussels on 28 May 2011, where Japan and the European Union reconfirmed their commitment to work together in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations and other international organisations to promote a secure, stable and prosperous future for the people of Afghanistan.

The overall objective of the conference is to discuss border security and control and foster cross-border cooperation between Tajik and Afghan authorities in Border Management and Trade Facilitation through the initiation of exchange of experiences and best practices.

Representatives from relevant ministries, customs and border guard services of both countries, NGOs of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, as well as Dushanbe international community, are taking part in the conference.

During the first day''s session, representatives of ministries and services highlighted cooperation between Border Services and the role of Customs Services in securing borders and facilitation of trade between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, presented EU General Strategy for the region, including border management in Central Asia and Northern Afghanistan, trade facilitation and regional cooperation.  Activities of the Border Control of Japan''s Customs, which is based on risk management, were also presented.