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Trade facilitation in selected landlocked countries in asia (studies in trade and investment)


ESCAP is the regional development arm of the United Nations and serves as the main
economic and social development centre for the United Nations in Asia and the Pacific.
Its mandate is to foster cooperation between its 53 members and 9 associate members.
ESCAP provides the strategic link between global and country-level programmes and
issues. It supports Governments of the region in consolidating regional positions and
advocates regional approaches to meeting the region’s unique socio-economic
challenges in a globalizing world. The ESCAP office is located in Bangkok, Thailand.
Please visit our website at www.unescap.org for further information.

The shaded areas of the map indicate ESCAP members and associate members.

2


STUDIES IN TRADE AND INVESTMENT
58

Trade Facilitation

in Selected Landlocked

Countries in Asia

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

3


TRADE FACILITATION IN SELECTED
LANDLOCKED COUNTRIES IN ASIA

Trade and Investment Division
UNESCAP
Bangkok, Thailand
Copyright c UNESCAP 2006
All rights reserved

ST/ESCAP/2437

The opinions, figures and estimates set forth in this publication are the
responsibility of the authors, and should not necessarily be considered as reflecting the
views or carrying the endorsement of the United Nations.
The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this
publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the
Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory,
city or area, or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Mention of firm names and commercial products does not imply the
endorsement of the United Nations.
All material in this publication may be freely quoted or reprinted, but
acknowledgement is requested, together with a copy of the publication containing the
quotation of reprint.
The use of this publication for any commercial purpose, including resale, is
prohibited unless permission is first obtained from the Trade and Investment Division,
ESCAP, Bangkok. Requests for permission should state the purpose and the extent of
reproduction.

4
ii


PREFACE


Over the past two decades, many countries in the ESCAP region underwent
extensive political and economic transformations as borders opened and states joined
the world economy. The newly independent states in the Caucasus and Central Asia in
particular, have experienced major structural changes with the transformation from a
centrally-planned to a market-oriented economic system.
With no direct access to the sea and to the world’s major markets, transformation
and economic development have been particularly challenging for landlocked countries.
In today’s globalized world, where international trade and transport play an increasingly
vital role, this is a major disadvantage. These countries have put great effort into
liberalizing their trade regimes and upgrading physical infrastructure. Despite these
efforts, market access for landlocked countries is still hampered by bottlenecks to trade,
such as cumbersome and non-transparent trade and customs procedures, excessive
paperwork with redundant data, duplicated inspections, inadequate fees and charges,
and poor inter-agency coordination as well as ICT infrastructure.
Implementation of trade facilitation reform programmes and measures is
therefore becoming an increasingly important tool for establishing a more transparent,
consistent and predictable environment for international trade in landlocked countries.
A primary goal of trade facilitation is to streamline and harmonize international trade
procedures and information flows, and improve countries’ overall business environment
through reducing administrative bottlenecks to cross border trade. Trade facilitation,
therefore, greatly contributes to reducing trade transaction costs and enhancing countries’
competitiveness.
In the view of the significance of trade facilitation to landlocked countries, the
ESCAP has conducted this study with the aim of increasing understanding of the specific
trade facilitation issues and conditions in the selected landlocked countries of the
Caucasus and Central Asian subregion. These countries include Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, in which ESCAP
undertook advisory missions during the period of 2003 - 2006. The findings of these
advisory missions are contained in this study entitled Trade Facilitation in Selected
Landlocked Countries in Asia.
It is our hope that this study will build upon the accomplishments of the advisory
missions and serve Governments and traders alike as a background document supporting
domestic trade facilitation reforms.

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iii


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia was prepared by
Ms. Maria Misovicova and Ms. Ying Qiu, both Economic Affairs Officers of Trade
Efficiency and Facilitation Section, Trade and Investment Division, under the guidance
and overall responsibility of Mr. Xuan Zengpei, Director of the ESCAP Trade and
Investment Division and Mr. Noordin Azhari, Chief, Trade Efficiency and Facilitation
Section.
Initial field research and other valuable contributions were made by Mr. Goh
Woon Chung, Senior Manager, Mr. Tan Gek Huat and Mr. Lee Yow Jinn, both associate
consultants; all from the International Trade Institute of Singapore Pte Ltd.
The full text of this publication is available for download on the web site of
the ESCAP Trade and Investment Division (http://www.unescap.org/tid/).

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iv


CONTENTS
Page
Preface................................................................................................................................ iii
Acknowledgements.......................................................................................................... iv

PART ONE
TRADE FACILITATION IN SELECTED LANDLOCKED COUNTRIES
IN ASIA

I.

Introduction................................................................................................................ 12
1. Background............................................................................................................. 12
2. Importance of trade facilitation for landlocked countries................................ 14
3. Rationales................................................................................................................ 17
4. Objectives and structure....................................................................................... 18

II. Trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific Region....................................................... 19
1. Definition and scope............................................................................................. 19
2. Benefits and importance....................................................................................... 21
3. Components and key stakeholders..................................................................... 23
4. Factors influencing trade facilitation development in the region................... 25

III. Policy recommendations to enhance the institutional infrastructure for
trade facilitation in the selected landlocked countries ..................................... 29
1. National trade facilitation strategy...................................................................... 34
2. Institutional mechanism for trade facilitation.................................................... 34
3. Trade regulatory environment............................................................................. 37

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Page
4. Trade and customs procedures and documentation............................................ 37
5. Trade and customs enforcement............................................................................. 39
6. Trade finance.............................................................................................................. 40
7. Application of ICT/ Electronic Trade Documentation System........................... 41
8. Strengthening regional and subregional cooperation: the role of ESCAP........ 42
9. Conclusion.................................................................................................................. 44
Annex 1.............................................................................................................................. 46

PART TWO
COUNTRY STUDIES

I.

Armenia................................................................................................................... 56

II. Azerbaijan............................................................................................................... 78
III. Kazakhstan............................................................................................................. 93
IV. Kyrgyzstan............................................................................................................. 103
V.

Mongolia................................................................................................................. 122

VI. Tajikistan................................................................................................................. 133
VII. Uzbekistan............................................................................................................... 142

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vi


LIST OF TABLES
Page
1. Distance from the seven landlocked countries to their closest seaports............ 14
2. Ranking of the seven selected countries in the Asia-Pacific region:
(GDP per capita in USD).............................................................................................. 15
3. Trade agreements of the seven selected countries................................................. 16
4. Processes, parties and procedures involved in international
trade transaction........................................................................................................... 20
5. ESCAP Trade Facilitation Framework guidelines and country status.................. 32

LIST OF FIGURES

1. Exports of the seven landlocked countries in 2001-2005........................................ 15
2. Main components of trade facilitation....................................................................... 24
3. Key stakeholders in trade facilitation........................................................................ 25
4. Diagrammatic presentation of ESCAP Trade Facilitation Framework................... 29
5. Example of a trade and/or transport facilitation committee..................................... 36

9
vii


ABBREVIATIONS
AC

Advisory Committees

ACCI

Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce and Industry

ADA

Armenian Development Agency

ADB

Asian Development Bank

AIRCA

Association of International Road Carriers of Armenia

AmDG

Armenian Development Gateway

APEC

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

ARMPRO

Armenia Trade and Transport Facilitation Committee

ARTNeT

Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade

ASEAN

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

ASYCUDA

automated systems of customs data administration

AZERPRO

National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committee of Azerbaijan

AZIPS

Azerbaijan Interbank Payment System

CAREC

Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation

CCD

cargo customs declarations

CCIRA

Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Armenia

CDF

customs declaration form

CER

Center of Economic Reforms

CIF

Cost, insurance, freight

CIQ

customs, immigration and quarantine

CIS

Commonwealth of Independent States

COM

Cabinet of Ministers

DDI

Digital Development Initiative

DITD

Department of Information Technology Development of Armenia

DMTA

Drug and Medical Technology Agency of Armenia

DTTN

Digital Trade and Transportation Network

EAN

European Article Number

ECO

Economic Cooperation Organization

EDI

electronic data interchange

ESC

ETDS Steering Committee

ESCAP

Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
10
viii


ETDS

electronic trade documentation system

FEZ

free economic zones

FDI

foreign direct investment

FIFTA

Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency of Mongolia

FINSAC

Financial Sector Adjustment Facility of Kyrgyzstan

FTA

free trade agreement

GATT

General Agreement on Tariff and Trade

GDP

gross domestic product

HS

harmonized system

ICT

information communication technology

IMF

International Monetary Fund

ISO

International Organization for Standards

IT

Information Technology

ITC

International Trade Centre

ITIS

International Trade Institute of Singapore

LA

lead agency

MASM

Mongolian Agency for Standardization and Metrology

MCGA

Mongolian Customs General Administration

MED

Ministry of Economic Development of the Government of Azerbaijan

MET

Ministry of Economy and Trade of the Government of Tajikistan

METI

Ministry of External Trade and Industry of the Government of Kyrgyzstan

MFER

Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations of the Government of Uzbekistan

MFN

most favored nation

MIT

Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Government of Kazakhstan

MNCCI

Mongolia National Chamber of Commerce and Industry

MOTC

Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Government of
Kyrgyzstan

MTED

Ministry of Trade and Economic Development of the Government of
Armania

NCSPTT

National Committee for Simplification of Procedures for Transport and
Trade of the Government of Armenia

NGO

non-governmental organization
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NICTS

National Information Communication Technology Strategy of the
Government of Azerbaijan

NTBs

non-tariff barriers

OECD

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

PROMA

Project Management Agency

SAD

single administrative document

SARM

Department of Standardization, Metrology and Certification of the
Government of Armenia

SCC

State Customs Committee

SCO

Shanghai Cooperation Organization

SMEs

small and medium enterprises

SOPs

standard operating procedures

SPECA

Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia

SSL

Secure Sockets Layer

STS

State Tax Service of the Government of Armenia

TF

trade facilitation

TFAC

Trade Facilitation Advisory Committee

TIN

tax identification number

TIP

Trade and Investment Programme

TIR

Transports Internationaux Routiers

TRACECA

Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia

UCR

Unique Consignment Reference

UN/CEFACT

United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business

UNCTAD

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

UN/EDIFACT

United Nations Electronic Data Interchange for Administration,
Commerce and Transport

USAID

United States Agency for International Development

VAT

value added tax

WCO

World Customs Organization

WTO

World Trade Organization

12
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Part One
Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

PART ONE

TRADE FACILITATION IN SELECTED LANDLOCKED
COUNTRIES IN ASIA

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Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

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Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

I. INTRODUCTION
1. BACKGROUND
Growth in trade, increasing numbers of bilateral and regional trade arrangements
and changes in basic business practices have created an environment that presents
Governments with increasing demands to create measures that facilitate the flow of
goods and services across national borders. Although tariffs have been significantly
reduced by multilateral trade liberalization under GATT/WTO, the cost of trading still
remains substantial. Enormous amounts of time and money are wasted because of
cumbersome and non-transparent trade procedures, which are hampering trade and
stifling economic development. Studies show that the cost of trade procedures may
range from 2 to 15 per cent of the value of traded goods.1
Landlocked countries are among the most affected. High trade transaction costs
and inefficiencies in areas such as customs and transport can be a stumbling block to
their integration into the global economy and may impair export competitiveness or the
inflow of foreign investment. Excessive paperwork and procedures, high transport costs
– both direct and indirect – unfavourable regulatory frameworks, insufficient coordination
among institutions and lack of transparency in trade-related rules, regulations and
procedures are still problems in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Aiming to
reach solutions to those challenges, Governments, business and intergovernmental
organizations have turned to the subject of trade facilitation.
In order to better understand the trade facilitation conditions in landlocked
countries in the Asia-Pacific region, ESCAP conducted advisory missions in several
countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia during the period 2003-2006. In 20032004, the ESCAP advisory team undertook its first set of advisory missions to Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The team comprised experts from the secretariat and from the International Trade
Institute of Singapore (ITIS). The team met with numerous public and private sector
trade facilitation stakeholders in those countries. They jointly reviewed the existing
situation with regard to the overall trade facilitation framework and the application of
information and communication technologies (ICT) in trade payments and trade
documentation. The team explained the concept of a holistic approach to trade facilitation
and the ESCAP Trade Facilitation Framework, a step-by-step methodology for
identifying trade facilitation conditions and bottlenecks to trade.
During 2005-2006, ESCAP implemented a project entitled “Institutional
Capacity Building for International Trade and Transport for the Landlocked and Transit
Countries. The project covered Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Lao’s People Democratic
Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its purpose was to assist the

1
APEC, APEC Economies: Realizing the benefits of trade facilitation, a report prepared for the APEC
Ministerial Meeting; (APEC, Mexico, 2002)

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Part One
Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

Governments in establishing national coordination mechanisms for trade and transport
facilitation and applying the ESCAP tools to the development of the national action
plans for trade and transport facilitation. Other outputs were also developed under this
project, including: (a) a study on national coordination mechanisms for trade and
transport facilitation; (b) a study on legal regimes for transport; (c) guidelines for
application of ITC for trade and transport facilitation; and (d) an online database for
trade and transport facilitation2.
The ESCAP advisory team included the experts from the Trade and Investment
Division, the Transport and Tourism Division, and the Information, Communication and
Space Technology Division. Under this project, five national workshops including
advisory services in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic,
Mongolia and Tajikistan were held. During these workshops, the secretariat assisted in
identifying the existing impediments for establishing national coordination mechanism
and analysing the current trade and transport facilitation environment in the countries
involved. The national action plans were developed using the ESCAP Trade Facilitation
Framework, the time-cost/distance model and other ESCAP tools. Generally, the action
plans deal with the following areas:
(i) Coordination mechanisms for trade and transport facilitation;
(ii) Legal frameworks for transport;
(iii) Trade and customs laws and regulations;
(iv) Simplification and harmonization of documentation and procedures;
(v) Application of the ESCAP time/cost-distance model;
(vi) Information dissemination;
(vii) Application of ICT; and
(viii) Capacity-building for trade and transport facilitation implementation.
This study combines the findings from the above advisory missions with the
results of the national workshops. It focuses on the seven landlocked countries in the
Caucasus and Central Asia, which are facing similar challenges arising from their
economic transformation. For this reason findings from the national workshop and
advisory services organized in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic will be addressed
separately.

2

These studies are available at http://www.unescap.org/tid/.

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Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

2. IMPORTANCE OF TRADE FACILITATION FOR LANDLOCKED COUNTRIES
Countries without direct access to the sea that must transit most of their exports
and imports across foreign territories are referred to as landlocked countries. For all
landlocked countries in the world, the average distance to the closest seaport is 1,370 km.
Most of the countries concerned belong to the most remote countries among all landlocked
countries (see table 1). This geographical remoteness makes them dependent on
neighbouring transit countries for their external trade. They depend on the neighbouring
countries’ transit infrastructure, political stability, administrative procedures and practices
in addition to good cross-border political relations.
Table 1. Distance from the seven landlocked countries to their closest seaports
Country

distance from the closest seaport

Armenia

700 km

Azerbaijan

800 km

Kazakhstan

3750 km

Kyrgyzstan

3600 km

Mongolia

995 km

Tajikistan

3100 km

Uzbekistan

2950 km

Source: ESCAP secretariat.

In addition to being landlocked, six out of the seven selected countries are also
transforming their economies from a centrally planned to a market-based system3. Such
transformation processes present tremendous political, economic and social challenges.
Transitional economies therefore face particular macro and microeconomic difficulties,
as they need to create new, fundamentally different government institutions and reform
their legislative, monetary, financial and tax systems in order to provide conditions for
privately owned enterprises, price liberalization and free market competition. As evidenced
by the figures in table 2, most of the seven countries are among the poorest nations in
the ESCAP region4. The majority are characterized by low per capita GDP, poor capacity
to export, low income levels, limited domestic savings capacity and a generally low level
of economic development.

3
Mongolia is the only landlocked developing country in the study which is not in transition. However, it
possesses some economic features that could be attributed to countries in transition.
4
ESCAP has 53 members and 9 associate members.

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Part One
Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

Table 2. Ranking of the seven selected countries in the Asia-Pacific region:
(GDP per capita in USD)
2001
GDP
per
capita

Ranking
in
AsiaPacific

2002
GDP
per
capita

Ranking in
AsiaPacific

2003
GDP
per
capita

Ranking
in
AsiaPacific

2004
GDP
per
capita

Ranking
in
AsiaPacific

2005
GDP
per
capita

Ranking
in
AsiaPacific

Armenia
659
38
740
38
873
40
1195
31
1614
34
Azerbaijan
694
36
752
36
853
41
991
35
1493
37
Kazakhstan 1426
25
1593
27
1785
31
2746
19
3783
25
Kyrgyzstan 309
50
323
51
N/A
N/A
416
48
464
53
Mongolia
402
47
437
47
462
48
486
44
706
46
Tajikistan
174
55
197
55
237
55
297
52
360
58
Uzbekistan
278
51
385
48
338
52
450
46
466
52
Source: ESCAP secretariat calculation based on data from the United Nations Statistics Division,
2005, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/cdb/cdb_help/cdb_quick_start.asp

Figure 1. Exports of the seven landlocked countries in 2001 - 2005

Source: ESCAP, based on IMF, Direction of Trade Statistics: (Washington D.C., IMF, 2006)

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Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

Most of the selected countries have concluded a number of free trade agreements
(FTAs) among themselves (see table 3) and maintain divergent trade policies. While
Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia are Members of the WTO, the remaining are still
in the process of accession. However, these countries cannot rely solely on preferential
trade concessions to increase export competitiveness. In order to be competitive on the
supply side, they have to raise the quality of their export products in order to compete
worldwide. New high value added consumer products, which meet international quality
standards, have to be developed and new markets need to be explored. Furthermore,
both the physical bottlenecks as well as non-tariff and administrative barriers have to
be removed and institutional infrastructures need to be upgraded to support their
industrial and trade development.
Table 3. Trade agreements of the seven selected countries
CIS FTA

EEC FTA

ECOTA

Armenia

3

Azerbaijan
Kazakhstan

3
3

3

3
3

Kyrgyzstan

3

3

3

Mongolia
Tajikistan
Uzbekistan

3
3

3
3

3
3

BAs
Georgia
Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan
Moldova
Russian Federation
Turkmenistan
Ukraine
Georgia
Armenia
Georgia
Kyrgyzstan
Armenia
Kazakhstan
Moldova
Russian Federation
Ukraine
Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Source: ESCAP secretariat
Notes: CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), EEC (Eurasian Economic Community) and
ECOTA (Economic Cooperation Organization Trade Agreement), Bilateral Agreements (BAs)

Much work also needs to be done in the area of standards and harmonization.
Harmonized standards are essential for ensuring better market access. Differences in
the standards applied in these countries and international standards for industrial
products also act as impediments to export competitiveness. Where harmonization of
standards and technical regulations is not immediately possible, experience shows that
the respective authorities should try to create a simple and transparent framework for
adopting and applying their national technical regulations and standards and increase
awareness on how to meet these requirements. Confidence can be further increased by
mutual recognition agreements between the national conformity assessment bodies.

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Part One
Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

In the countries concerned, major difficulties in the smooth flow of trade across
borders come in the form of administrative and procedural deficiencies. According to
the findings of the advisory missions, such deficiencies include:
• Lack of transparency leading to discretionary practices by authorities;
• Insufficient access to information on trade and customs laws, regulations and
procedures;
• Complicated and non-standardized procedures for customs clearance and inspections;
• Absence of effective coordination among the stakeholders at the national level;
• Lack of coordination with neighbouring countries with regard to harmonization of
procedures and documentary requirements;
• Underdeveloped logistics services and multimodal transport;
• Insufficient application of ICT; and
• Lack of trained and competent human resources as well as institutional capacities.
Trade facilitation plays a vital role for landlocked countries, as the benefits from
the removal of such deficiencies can be much greater to companies than the removal of
tariff barriers. With the reduced time and cost of trade transactions, companies could
enjoy better competitiveness in international markets. Trade facilitation is also a major
factor in attracting foreign investment, especially supply-chain related investment, where
the existence of an efficient import and export processes is essential. Transparency,
simplification and harmonization of import, export and transit formalities and
information flows are central in this regard.
3. RATIONALES
Landlocked countries in the Asia-Pacific region are worthy of study for five
reasons. First, apart from a few mission reports that suffer from lack of comprehensiveness
and analysis, there is a dearth of information on the latest developments in trade facilitation
particularly regarding the development of soft infrastructure for trade facilitation. Little is
known, for example, about the true state of the development of trade facilitation systems
in these countries, the problems confronted by these countries in their process of trade
facilitation reform and implementation of action plans, and what policy recommendations
could be proposed to help these countries to overcome these obstacles and barriers.
Second, there is a need to raise awareness on trade facilitation reform. Despite
progress in developing free trade agreements and transit transport systems, the importance
of trade facilitation reform, to a certain degree, has been overlooked. A few reasons for
this include a lack of strong political will and commitment, high direct and indirect costs
involved in improving physical and institutional infrastructures as well as weak human
capacity-building. Therefore, raising awareness can definitely help consensus-building.
Consensus-building provides these countries with greater assistance in achieving
meaningful subregional integration and in becoming effectively and beneficially integrated
parts of the global economy.

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Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

Third, the findings of this study can serve as a useful reference for landlocked
countries in other regions, with which they share many characteristics and problems.
These problems include a) physical isolation, geographical dispersal and distance from
the main markets; b) low level of participation in the multilateral trading system and a
minimal share of total world trade; c) minimal or no export diversification: concentration
of exports on very few products; d) inadequate infrastructure; e) low competitiveness;
f) considerable difficulties in attracting foreign investment; and g) high transport costs.
Thus, the policy recommendations provided by this study may not be limited to the
seven selected countries; they may apply to other developing and least-developed
countries where similar problems exist.
Fourth, this study provides background information and analysis on how to
harmonize and streamline different projects and regional programmes on trade facilitation
initiated by different international, regional and subregional organizations and agencies.
The United Nations and its regional commissions have an important role to play in
providing regional and subregional forums for policy dialogue and consensus-building
on trade facilitation and liberalization policies. They also have the knowledge on the
regional and subregional trade facilitation conditions as well as implementation needs
and capacity-building priorities to meet these needs.
Cooperation between landlocked countries and their transit neighbours raises
complex economic, trade and legal issues that require dialogues to find mutually acceptable
solutions for trade facilitation. Improvement in understanding the status of trade
facilitation reforms in these countries can support international, regional and subregional
technical cooperation in the field.
4. OBJECTIVES AND STRUCTURE
The overall aim of the study is to enhance the understanding on the trade
facilitation conditions including problems and policy recommendations (with a particular
emphasis on the institutional infrastructure of trade facilitation) in the landlocked
countries of the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
This study is divided into two parts. Part One consists of three chapters,
providing the background and regional level analysis. Chapter I offers an introduction
to this publication, which explains the importance of trade facilitation for the selected
countries, rationales, aim, objectives and structure of the study. Chapter II reviews
trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region. It explains the scope of trade facilitation,
discusses key stakeholders involved as well as factors influencing trade facilitation
conditions in the region. Chapter III not only provides policy recommendations to
enhance the institutional infrastructure of trade facilitation in the selected landlocked
countries as a whole, but also highlights the role that ESCAP can play to promote trade
facilitation at the regional and subregional levels.
Part Two consists of seven chapters, each devoted to the study of the institutional
infrastructure and trade facilitation conditions in the countries concerned.
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Part One
Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

II. TRADE FACILITATION IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION
1. DEFINITION AND SCOPE
Trade facilitation is often referred to as the “plumbing of international trade”
and focuses on the efficient implementation of trade rules and regulations. In a narrow
sense, trade facilitation relates to streamlining the customs and other border agencies
procedures and related documentary requirements. In a broader sense, it relates to
streamlining the processes, procedures and information flows throughout the entire
international supply chain. In relation to the United Nations Millennium Development
Goals, trade facilitation might expand its scope by including development of trade
infrastructure (such as transport networks, port facilities, logistics services and ICT
infrastructure).
Although there is no universal definition for trade facilitation, it is generally
agreed that trade facilitation does not include tariff liberalization or the development of
physical infrastructure for trade, such as construction of roads or railways. The WTO
describes trade facilitation as “the simplification and harmonization of international
trade procedures” covering the “activities, practices and formalities involved in
collecting, presenting, communicating and processing data and other information
required for the movement of goods in international trade”.
In general, trade facilitation refers to simplification, standardization and
harmonization of trade processes, procedures and related information flows.5 Traditionally,
such information flows are in the form of paper documents, and trade procedures involving
the handling of paper documents. Basic trade facilitation efforts therefore focus on
measures to reduce border formalities, procedures and documents. Apart from these
measures the improvement of physical movement of the goods through trade facilitation
must also address:
• Establishment of a favourable legal and regulatory environment
• Supply of better (transparent, predictable, uniform) services, implying an adequate
legal environment, appropriate transport and communications infrastructure,
organized services provider companies
• Use of modern information and communications technology applications
5

Trade facilitation definitions by other agencies include the following:
• OECD: “Simplification and standardization of procedures and associated information flows
required to move goods internationally from seller to buyer and to pass payments in the other
direction.”
• UNECE: UN/CEFACT defines trade facilitation as “the simplification, standardization and
harmonization of procedures and associated information flows required to move goods from
seller to buyer and to make payment. Within this definition, procedures are the activities,
practices and formalities required for the movement of goods in international trade. Information
flows include both data and documents. This view of trade facilitation encompasses both the
cross border and other processes involved in international trade.”
• APEC: “Trade facilitation generally refers to the simplification, harmonization, use of new
technologies, and other measures to address procedural and administrative impediments to trade.”

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Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

• Increased awareness of all concerned actors regarding the potential benefits that they
may achieve through trade facilitation
• Simplification of payment systems
• Transparency measures
• Availability of trade and customs related information (dissemination of trade and
customs laws, regulations, procedures, rulings).
For the above reasons, a comprehensive approach to trade facilitation, covering
all aspects of international trade transactions, has to be adopted. According to United
Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business6, international trade
transaction consists of five stages:






Placing of an order and preparation for export
Export
Transport
Preparation for import
Import.

These involve various processes, actors and procedures as described in table 4.
The processes showed in the table are determined mainly by the individual countries’
laws and regulations, commercial terms of doing business and product characteristics,
which may add to the complexity of the international trade transaction process. Trade
facilitation aims to address this complexity and make the processes involved in international
trade transactions easier.
Table 4. Processes, parties and procedures involved in international trade transaction
Processes
Commercial

Actors
Buyer
Seller

Transport

Carriers

Regulatory

Customs broker,
Customs and other
border agencies,
licensing authorities

Financial

Insurance agents
Banks

x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x

x
x
x
x
x

Procedures
Establish contract
Order goods
Advice on delivery
Request Payment
Establish transport contract
Collect, transport and deliver goods
Provide waybills/bills of lading, goods receipts,
status report
Obtain licenses (import/export)
Submit customs declaration and other related
documents (such as carrier note, invoice,
waybill/bill of lading, packing list, customs
valuation form, certificate of origin, import
license/export permit)
Apply trade security/risk management procedures
Clear goods for export/import
Provide credit rating/credit
Arrange insurance
Execute payment

Source: ESCAP secretariat.
6
UN/CEFACT, Reference Model of the International Supply Chain with a special reference to
Trade Facilitation and Trade Security,(UN/CEFACT, Geneva, 2003)

20


Part One
Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

2. BENEFITS AND IMPORTANCE
Trade facilitation is a diverse and challenging subject with enormous potential
benefits for both business and Governments, aimed at reducing administrative bottlenecks
in international trade. It is an investment with real returns in terms of overall trade
transaction cost reduction, increased competitiveness of exports, new options for better
door-to-door logistics and increased revenue collections and controls. It is generally
recognized that well-targeted trade facilitation measures, such as establishment of single
window facilities at border-crossing points and ports, introduction of a single
administrative document (replacing a number of trade documents) and application of risk
management techniques, could be beneficial to both Governments and business.
Governments could benefit from enhanced revenue collection, foreign trade statistics
and administrative controls, while business benefits from faster customs clearance, lower
trade transaction costs and reduced delays. From a country perspective, trade facilitation
could lead to better trade and economic performance and bring about regional integration.
In this connection, ICT is a necessary tool for enhancing the efficient implementation of
trade facilitation measures as well as increasing transparency and predictability in bordercrossing operations, while at the same time restraining human factors and discretionary
practices.
Trade costs are not only reflected in direct monetary outlays associated with
aspects of internation trade, such as tariffs, freight, insurance and transport, but also in
indirect expenses such as time and uncertainty. A study by Hummels (2001) found that
for United States of America imports, the time cost of one day in transit is equivalent to
an ad valorem tariff rate of 0.8 per cent, yielding the equivalent of a 16 per cent tariff on an
average ocean shipment of 20 days. An ESCAP time-cost/distance study using a modified
gravity model estimated that, on average, each additional day that a product is delayed
reduces trade by at least 1 per cent. To put it differently, each day of delay is equivalent
to a country distancing itself from its trade partners by 85 km on average. Delays can
have an even greater impact on developing country exports and exports of time-sensitive
goods, such as perishable agricultural products.
Several studies have tried to estimate the potential welfare gains which could
be attained from the implementation of trade facilitation. According to the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC), a 5 per cent reduction in trade transaction costs for trade
in goods by 2006 will raise its collective GDP by 0.9 per cent, which, in absolute terms,
represents about US$ 154 billion.7 The Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) calculates that a modest 1 per cent reduction in the of trade
transaction costs of the value of traded goods would bring annual gains of about US$ 40
billion on a global basis. In relative terms, most of these gains would benefit developing
countries.8 The World Bank report on global economic prospects for 2004 estimates that
7
APEC, APEC Economies: Realizing the benefits of trade facilitation, a report prepared for the
APEC Ministerial Meeting; (APEC, Mexico, 2002)
8
OECD, Quantitative Assessment of the Benefits of Trade Facilitation, TD/TC/WP(2003)31/
FINAL; (OECD, Paris, 2003).

21


Trade Facilitation in Selected Landlocked Countries in Asia

enhancing capacity in global trade facilitation would increase world trade of manufacturing
goods by approximately US$ 377 billion, which means an increase of about 9.7 per cent.9
Because of the clear benefits of trade facilitation, a number of international
organizations have focused their work on this issue. The World Customs Organization
has been spearheading attempts to harmonize and standardize customs operations,
through numerous international conventions and other tools, including Convention on
the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs procedures (known as the Revised
Kyoto Convention), Temporary Admission Convention, Harmonized Commodity
Description and Coding System (HS Convention), Unique Consignment Reference (UCR),
Customs Data Model, SAFE Framework of Standards to secure and facilitate global
trade, Risk Management Guide, Immediate Release Guidelines, Time Release Study and
others.
Under WTO, there are several provisions providing multilateral rules related
directly or indirectly to trade facilitation. These include the General Agreement on Tariffs
and Trade (GATT) 1994, Articles V (freedom of transit), VII (valuation for customs
purposes), VIII (fees and formalities connected with importation and exportation) and X
(publication and administration of trade regulations). It also includes the Agreement on
Implementation of Article VII of the GATT 1994 (known as the Customs Valuation
Agreement), the Agreement on Rules of Origin, the Agreement on Application of Sanitary
and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT),
the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures, the Agreement on Pre-shipment
Inspection and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) (particularly in
relation to transport and logistic services). The inclusion of trade facilitation in the Doha
Round negotiations reinforced its importance, although the scope was narrowed to
GATT Articles V, VIII and X.
The World Bank has developed the Trade and Transport Facilitation Toolkit
for Audit, Analysis and Remedial Actions and The Customs Modernization Handbook.
It has numerous trade facilitation programmes for transitional, developing and leastdeveloped countries worldwide. The World Bank has also initiated the Global Facilitation
Partnership for Transportation and Trade, which is a web-based information-sharing
platform dedicated to trade and transport facilitation (www.gfptt.org).
Several United Nations agencies develop and maintain trade and transport
facilitation instruments, such as international conventions, standards, recommendations,
guidelines and best practices, and provide technical assistance on capacity-building to
implement them. Through its Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/
CEFACT), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has been
developing such instruments for trade procedures and documents as well as for electronic
business. Examples of this include United Nations Layout Key, the United Nations
Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (UN/EDIFACT)
and United Nations Trade Data Elements Directory (UNTDED).
9

World Bank, Global Economic Prospects 2004; (World Bank, Washington D.C., 2004)

22


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