Current COVID border restrictions and post-pandemic economic growth are both driving an increased focus on making trade and transport more efficient and connected across the landlocked countries of Central Asia.
IRU recently spoke at the Central Asian Trade Forum, a major virtual conference organised by USAID, the US agency for International Development, which brought together public and private sector voices from across the region.
All participants underlined the importance of making door-to-door transportation more efficient in order to drive economic recovery as rapidly as possible, and for mitigating the disruptions, especially at borders, which are still being caused by COVID-19 sanitation measures.
Tatiana Rey-Bellet, IRU’s Director of TIR and Transit, said, “Drivers and trucks are still subject to restrictions at some borders, resulting in the need for trailer swaps or transshipment which, perversely, increase physical human contact rather than reduce it.
“Alongside the greater use of existing international trade and transport instruments such as TIR, and in particular eTIR, authorities need to better coordinate on COVID measures to ensure seamless border crossings as well as protect people from the virus,” she added.
In addition, digitalisation of transport documents, dedicated lanes for secure TIR transport as well as for perishable goods, further development of Trans-Caspian routes, and mechanisms allowing businesses to connect and cooperate to re-build supply chains are also important elements to support trade flows in the region.
IRU continues to work with governments, customs authorities and development partners across the region to digitalise TIR, smooth border crossings and boost trade.