CAREC region introduces own indices of trade liberalization and institutional quality
Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) held in Hohhot, People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 6–7 June 2012 adopted a range of revolutionary decisions for the 10 participating countries of the CAREC Program.
According to the Final Declaration, the session sets a goal to analyze national actions taken so far by the CAREC countries to implement the new 10-year CAREC Strategic Framework (CAREC 2020) endorsed in Baku in November 2011, discuss the proposed CAREC Institute Strategic Knowledge Framework and draft concept of a Corridor Development Study, and analyze the progress in CAREC’s priority sectors, CAREC corridor performance measures, and the development effectiveness review for 2011.
As a result, the session participant highlighted the importance of promoting greater country commitment to, and ownership of, regional cooperation, as well as improving national coordination mechanisms to ensure successful implementation of CAREC 2020.
They also coordinated the CAREC Institute (CI) Strategic Knowledge Framework (SKF) 2012–17, the SOM reached broad agreement on the following: the SKF and the priority areas of the CI; the CI, in the interim, should be located in ADB Headquarters in Manila; a work plan for 2013–2014 will be presented at the 11th CAREC MC in October/November 2012; and a CI assessment study will need to be carried out for consideration by the CAREC SOM.
The SOM reviewed progress in the four priority sectors of transport, energy, trade facilitation, and trade policy, and discussed related issues and future work plans.
In transport, the SOM will help ensure that country inputs are provided, on a timely basis, for the planned midterm review of the CAREC Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy and Action Plan (TTFSAP). A study of logistics hubs will be considered in the midterm review.
In energy, the SOM agreed, in principle, on the components of the proposed Energy Work Plan (EWP) 2013–15, details of which will be developed further and discussed at the next meeting of the Energy Sector Coordinating Committee, to be held in September 2012, and the need for greater engagement by CAREC national and energy sector focal points in the preparation of the EWP and the medium- and long-term priority projects list. The energy–water nexus issues will need to be reviewed more carefully. Support for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects should be considered.
In trade facilitation, the SOM agreed, in principle, an action plan for cooperation on sanitary/phytosanitary matters should be prepared, and welcomed the consultations that will take place for the action plan preparation.
In trade policy, the SOM expressed broad support to the full implementation of the Trade Policy Strategic Action Plan going forward, specifically: further trade liberalization, including the reduction of non-tariff barriers, steps toward accession to the World Trade Organization, and improvement of institutional environment for trade. The SOM also agreed to provide full and timely inputs for the calculation of trade liberalization and institutional quality indices.
When considering the 2011 Annual and First Quarter 2012 Reports on CAREC Corridor Performance Measurement and Monitoring, presented by Capt. Lin Zhong, President of the CAREC Federation of Carriers and Freight Forwarders Associations, the participants noted that the average cost and time spent on border crossing points (BCPs) showed improvement in 2011. The average “speed without delay” indicator was faster in 2011, but the average “speed with delay” indicator showed a decline due to longer delays recorded at non-BCP stops.
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