The Third Regional Conference on Trade Facilitation and Caucasus Transit Corridor (CTC) Promotion took place on 24 and 25 June 2013 in Batumi, Georgia. It was organized by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Revenue Service and Ministry of Justice of Georgia, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United States Agency for International Development with the support of the International Rail Transport Committee.
The countries of the South Caucasus have made significant progress in the implementation of trade and transport facilitation measures since the first regional Conference on trade facilitation, the Single Window and data harmonization, which took place in June 2009. Georgia has made persuasive changes in its trade procedures, earning it the ninth place in the World Bank’s Doing Business index for 2012. The efficiency and transparency of trade control measures have increased, and corruption has decreased considerably. A Single Window project has been under implementation in Azerbaijan for several years. All this progress has to be put in a strategic perspective now, so that the resources saved by trade facilitation and increased efficiency of foreign trade can be used for further development of the economies of the countries, and trade facilitation can become an engine for growth.
The Conference reached its objectives:
1. National and international experts, as well as business representatives, assessed the impact of trade facilitation measures and instruments implemented by Customs, the Georgian Data Exchange Agency and other agencies in the countries, and helped formulate a list of policy recommendations in the conclusions of the conference.2. The participants exchanged experience and assessed the progress made in the implementation of Single Window and other trade facilitation projects; they defined further steps in the development of e-Government, port community systems, TradeNet, and other projects.3. In the area of corridor development, they formulated recommendations for next steps aimed at implementing:
- practical measures to improve trade information exchange along corridors, notably for further multimodal seamless data exchange, including for rail, road and sea transportation;
- Customs-to-Customs data exchange;
- establishing interoperability among Single Window and port community systems;
- further development of corridors, in particular by:
(i) extending the Viking Corridor through the Black Sear, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan (aligning information exchange, legal and guarantee regimes);
(ii) development of the Silk Wind corridor;
(iii) building synergies with TRACECA;
- development of Porty Commnity Systems along the Black Sea - Caucasus - Caspian corrdior;
4. They invited the relevant agencies in the countries to
- work on extending the unified European railway regime to Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
- establish a Georgian national chapter of the Supply Chain Council.
- develop national and corridor-based trade facilitation strategies.
5. The participants agreed on a declaration in conclusion of the Conference, which defined the next steps for the organizations and countries in achieving trade facilitation.