Government and business in Central Asia can work together to streamline border crossings and better manage growing trade flows with tried-and-tested UN instruments and digitalisation.
Central Asia sits at the heart of east-west connectivity.
Traffic pressure on evolving routes and resulting border crossing challenges are hampering the flow of goods, leading to long border queues with damaging consequences for drivers, transport operators and trade.
Border crossing challenges include limited capacities, lack of joint controls, and insufficient use of soft mechanisms to facilitate transit flows.
Such shortcomings lead to additional costs for operators, many of which are small and medium-sized enterprises, and, perhaps most importantly, horrible conditions for drivers who can be stranded at borders for days at a time. The latter, ultimately, reduces the appeal of the profession, undermining industry efforts to attract new drivers.
Erman Ereke, IRU’s General Delegate in Istanbul, outlined some of the solutions, based on IRU’s experience in the region and 75 years of global expertise, at the International Transport Forum’s event titled “Enhancing Regional Freight Connectivity for Central Asia” in Istanbul, Türkiye.
“Infrastructure needs to keep pace with growth in transit. But it takes years to implement hard infrastructure. We need to improve the efficiency of border crossings right now. Soft solutions and digitalisation provide much quicker results,” said Erman Ereke. “TIR Green Lanes are ready to be implemented right now. They can be further transformed into eTIR Green Lanes.”
“It’s also absolutely necessary for border investments to be done jointly with neighbouring countries, with both sides working in coordination,” he added.
TIR Green Lanes can cut border crossing times from 2-3 days to 8-9 hours.
The digitalisation of TIR, eTIR, should be accompanied by e-CMR, e-Visas and e-Permits, all of which offer significant benefits and the ability to enhance the security, transparency and flow of goods.
IRU is advising and working with governments, customs authorities and development partners across the region to improve trade facilitation.