TRADE FACILITATION PROGRAM
The Caucasus region has been a major trade and transport corridor since ancient times, but during the last decade it has lost this role. Transport costs are prohibitively high. Border crossing procedures are cumbersome and time-consuming. Transport and communications infra-structure is decaying. As a result, prospective shippers to Russia, the Persian Gulf, Turkey and Central Asia have sought alternate routes, while the export competitiveness of all three countries in the region has been limited by high transport costs.
In June 2001 the Georgian Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications, the World Bank and PPIAF (Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility) co-sponsored a workshop, which considered the institutional and physical obstacles to trade, transport and telecommunications in the region, and developed strategies to overcome them. Discussions were based on a series of studies, carried out by the World Bank, identifying major weaknesses in transport, trade and telecommunications infra-structure, which have hindered the region's competitiveness and its ability to serve as a transport corridor between Europe and Asia. Participants in the workshop verified the findings, and discussed the experience of other countries in resolving similar weaknesses. In particular, the Workshop introduced the ongoing work of the World Bank's Trade and Transport Facilitation Project in Southeastern Europe, and considered ways in which this methodology and experience could be applied in the South Caucasus.
In close cooperation with TRACECA, the IRU and FIATA, public and private sector stakeholders and governments, we are undertaking a modest program aimed at demonstrating the concrete benefits that individual countries could derive under this approach. We will focus on the following areas:
Collection of indicators at major border crossing points: local project teams, including officials from various border agencies, supported by local consultants, will regularly collect a series of indicators to measure performance at these sites, in accordance with established methodology. Based on these observations they will formulate proposals to improve operational procedures at each site.
Support for public- private dialog on trade facilitation. In Turkey and Southeastern Europe, this dialog has taken the form of pro-committees, consisting of representatives of government and private sector stakeholders, who have an interest in advancing the trade facilitation agenda. Representatives of these committees will join travel to the region to discuss their experience, and consider how private-public dialog can best be facilitated in each country.
Improving information mechanisms regarding procedures, regulations and laws affecting transport and trade, by using new technologies. The goal is to make freely available all the information required for moving goods, services and people between the three countries and their neighbors in a comprehensive and user-friendly format.
Reviewing the feasibility of establishing logistic/distribution/industrial zones in the region.
For further information on the program and
comments on any of the working papers
Judy Deane or Genoveva Berin Torres