OECD experts presented new reports on Trade Facilitation in Central Asia and on Realising the Potential of the Middle Corridor at a business breakfast with the participation of heads of the Ministry of Trade and Integration and ambassadors of OECD countries. The Ministry of Trade and Integration of Kazakhstan, in cooperation with QazTrade, is a partner of the OECD project on trade and transport connectivity of the Central Asian countries.
In its work, the OECD focused on the development of trade relations among Central Asian countries and Kazakhstan’s export ecosystem. According to the OECD, countries in the region have achieved positive results in simplifying and optimizing trade procedures and automating customs operations.
Opening the event, William Tompson, Head of the OECD Eurasia Division, noted that addressing the challenges caused by geopolitical events requires the countries of the region to further integrate both at the regional and international levels, upgrade existing infrastructure, and remove barriers to trade. In that regard, trade facilitation plays a pivotal role in achieving these goals by reducing trade costs and fostering integration.
As the Minister of Trade and Integration of Kazakhstan, Arman Shakkaliyev, said at the meeting, the mutual trade turnover between Kazakhstan and the Central Asian countries is growing. The leading trading players in the region are Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Moreover, Kazakhstan accounts for over half of the volume of foreign trade operations with OECD countries.
“For Kazakhstan, as one of the largest partners of Central Asian сcountries, it is important to follow OECD principles and standards in various sectors of the economy. As part of the project, we are doing a lot of work to strengthen and develop regional trade connectivity. In this context, special priority is given to strengthening Kazakhstan’s competitive economy and export ecosystem,” the Minister stressed.
Gregory Lecomte, Head of Central Asia Unit, presented the key points of the reports on trade and transport connectivity of Central Asian countries and provided recommendations for further improvement of trade procedures.
In general, despite the region’s improvement in trade facilitation indicators, it is recommended to continue working to improve access to documentation, boost digitalization in trade-related procedures, and build up infrastructure to enhance intra-regional trade and inter-regional freight of goods.
“In particular, Kazakhstan is recommended to expand the existing structures of the single window service and reduce compliance costs” – said Mr. Lecomte.
During the event, participants stressed the importance of developing the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TMTM), the Middle Corridor.
Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to Kazakhstan Egidijus Navikas noted that connecting Central Asia and Europe through the Middle Corridor is one of the main tasks in ensuring the transit of goods.
In turn, Kairat Torebayev, Vice Minister of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan, shared information about the region’s dynamic development of transport logistics. In recent years, cargo deliveries to Europe have increased through the TMTM, which passes territories of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Thus, the volume of cargo transportation along the Middle Corridor increased by 1.8 times; only in 2023, 2.8 million tons of cargo were transported through the TMTM. The increase was 86% compared to the previous year.
The OECD report on the potential of the Middle Corridor includes infrastructure development along the route and related services. In addition to the transit functions of TMTM, the promotion of exports of goods and services is of particular importance for Kazakhstan. The Ministry of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan and QazTrade are actively working to simplify trade procedures and continue to expand trade cooperation with Central Asian countries.
According to Deputy General Director of QazTrade JSC Nurlan Kulbatyrov, the implementation of OECD recommendations and transition to paperless trade will lead to an increase in trade turnover by 30% in the medium term, which is a priority indicator for Kazakhstan. He also noted that Kazakhstan participates in all OECD analytical activities in trade. These include the OECD Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI), the OECD Trade Facilitation Indicators and the Trade in Value-added (TiVA).
At the end of the business meeting, the participants expressed confidence in further strengthening cooperation on the current agenda and deepening collaboration in critical areas.
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Funds Economy journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.