Story: Fast-Track to improved cross-border trade in Central Asia (en)
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on trade, Tajikistan is taking great strides to remove regulatory and procedural barriers. Exporting from and importing to this country will soon be as easy as ABC. As of last August, companies can apply to become an “Authorized Economic Operator” (AEO) through an innovative mechanism set up by the local authorities. This new trade facilitation regulation aims to enhance international supply chains security and facilitate legitimate trade in Tajikistan.
The new changes introduced to the Customs Code of Tajikistan allow companies, which meet pre-defined criteria that prove they conduct their business in a transparent and trustworthy manner, to apply for the AEO status. This new regulation to facilitate import, export, and transit formalities in Tajikistan is part of the country’s WTO obligations on the simplification of trade procedures, and contributes to its compliance with the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. The national Customs Service developed the AEO regulation mechanism in close cooperation with the International Trade Center and with the financial support of the European Union, under the Ready4Trade-Central Asia project.
The AEO status will provide priority access to companies for customs clearance and control processes. Although they will have to submit the same customs documents, they will be able to go through the procedures and formalities faster and without any additional fees. Businesses with this AEO status will also be able to choose to go through the customs clearance procedures in their own storage facilities or in open areas.
Pierre Bonthonneau, ITC Trade Facilitation Adviser points out: “This new regulation will reduce the time and costs of cross-border procedures for any business registered as an AEO. It will assist the Tajik small and medium-sized enterprises to import raw materials and machinery and export their products in a way that will be both easier and faster, thus improving their competitiveness in the regional and international markets”.
The national Customs Service is responsible for issuing, cancelling, suspending and revoking a certificate of inclusion in the official registry of AEOs. ITC’s support included helping the Customs Service develop the right processes for the AEO status, and training both the private sector and customs officers for a smooth enforcement of this new regulation.
Representatives from the Customs Service expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to offer new and enhanced services both to the Tajik and foreign business communities through this new regulation. They stressed that the modernization and improvement of the customs services are key to stimulating a sustainable economic development and expressed their gratitude to the EU and ITC for their instrumental support.
The Head of the EU Delegation in Tajikistan, H.E. Marilyn Josefson, highlighted the significance of this achievement not only for Tajik businesses but also for European businesses operating in Tajikistan.
With the project ‘Ready4Trade Central Asia’, the European Union (EU) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) are joining forces to contribute to the overall sustainable and inclusive economic development of Central Asia by boosting intra-regional and international trade in the region. The Ready4Trade Central Asia project supports governments, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), in particular women led enterprises, and Business Support Organizations (BSOs). The project operates in five countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.