Afghanistan, the Central Asians of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, together with Azerbaijan together with Azerbaijan will reduce barriers to trade and transport using UN legal instruments, standards and recommendations.
Calling the step as ‘decisive’, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said in a statement the step will significantly increase interconnectivity in the region.
The statement further added “This will boost the regional market and cross-border supply chains, helping the countries to integrate with the economies of Europe and Asia.”
“It aims in turn to attract investments, technologies and innovation to the region that has been a cradle of civilization, trade and transport routes since ancient times,” the statement added.
This comes as Ministers from the region gather under the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA), seizing this opportunity to catalyze their progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to UNECE.
Mr Batyr Bazarov, Minister of Finance and Economy of Turkmenistan, stated at the annual SPECA Forum on 20-21 November 2019 in Ashgabat “our goal is to make the region a modern centre of transport services and trade”.
SPECA Working Groups Finalize key Documents:
The SPECA working groups on trade and transport and the annual Economic Forum on Connectivity: Sustainable Transport and Trade Facilitation in the SPECA subregion finalized several documents during the SPECA Days in Ashgabat from 18 to 21 November 2019.
The SPECA Governing Council later adopted the documents on 21 November 2019 which included the Ashgabat Initiative on the reduction of barriers to trade and transport in the regionm a SPECA Strategy on Innovation for Sustainable Development, a SPECA Trade Facilitation Strategy; principles for sustainable trade in the region, a proposal for a SPECA study on non-tariff barriers to trade and recommendations on the implementation of UN legal instruments on transport.
A very important element in the Initiative and the other concluding documents was the link between connectivity, trade and transport facilitation, and sustainable development, UNECE said in statement, adding that trade facilitation is about cutting waste of material and human resources. “A key challenge for the region is to make economic and trade growth sustainable.”
The countries, represented at ministerial level, decided to establish a Fund to support the implementation of these strategic documents, UNECE added in its statement.
SPECA is a country-owned and country-driven programme for the land-locked economies of Central Asia, supported by two United Nations Regional Commissions: the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
In this sense, SPECA plays a unique role as a bridge between Europe and East Asia. The adoption of the above decisions created a stable basis for the third stage of development of SPECA, at the nexus between trade, transport and sustainable development, launching the Programme into its third decade, according to UNECE.