SASEC Knowledge Event on Transport Facilitation
9-10 Nov 2017
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) jointly held a SASEC Knowledge Event on Transport Facilitation on 9-10 November 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand, to raise awareness on international best practice in transport facilitation and logistics development.
Transport facilitation is a priority area of the SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework and the SASEC Operational Plan 2016-2025. Facilitating through-transport in the region significantly reduces costly and time-consuming border transshipment of goods, facilitates people movement, and is a critical factor in enabling SASEC achieve its full trade potential.
The Knowledge Event
- Underscored the importance of institutionalizing integration processes in the region, including removal of non-physical barriers to transport, and harmonization of regulations, standards, norms and practices;
- Discussed how the Secure Cross-Border Transport Model could be leveraged to both promote security and ease cross-border transport operations. ADB presented its work on the application of Electronic Cargo Tracking Systems (ECTS) under the SASEC framework, and discussed the pilot run and studies undertaken in cross-border trade between Bhutan-India, India inland transshipment and export facilitation, and the proposed pilot for facilitating Nepal's transit traffic through India. The pilot tests and studies have demonstrated the feasibility of using ECTS in the region, and its benefits including time and cost reduction for trade and better regulatory control;
- Discussed arrangements for temporary admission of vehicles under the TIR Convention, ATA carnet, and Istanbul convention to facilitate international transit and inter-state transport;
- Discussed the promotion of inter-modal and multi-modal transport to improve the efficiency of domestic and inter-state transport. The event also highlighted the need to connect "missing" links or nodes, and resolve inefficiencies along links and nodes, in an integrated inter-modal transport system, since these can affect the overall efficiency of the network.
- Discussed transport facilitation, including (i) UNESCAP's Logistics Information System (LIS)—public platform that allows harmonized and simplified information exchanges between transport logistics and service providers; (ii) prefeasibility studies of multimodal logistics parks (MMLPs) conducted by ADB in Karnataka and Assam in India; and (iii) the Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports, an Agreement that recognizes the importance of development of dry ports in minimizing logistics cost. The Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports, opened for signature by member countries in November 2013, has 17 members. In the SASEC subregion, Bangladesh and India are parties to the agreement. Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have already approved the agreement;
- Recognized the key role of ports as trade gateways, and discussed port efficiency improvement in the SASEC region. The session on ports examined case studies of port development in Korea and Myanmar, and the Sagarmala Program of the Government of India. It also reviewed different port connectivity enhancement initiatives, such as freight expressways, road and railway connectivity projects, national waterways and multi-modal logistic hubs;
- Discussed promotion of railway transport. UNESCAP presented the Regional Cooperation Framework for Facilitation of International Railway Transport, which highlights areas for cooperation among member countries to facilitate international railway transport. The session emphasized the need to enhance use of rail networks to facilitate trade in the SASEC subregion.
The Knowledge Event was co-chaired by Mr. Yuwei Li, Transport Director, UNESCAP, and Mr. Ronald Antonio Q. Butiong, Director, Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division, South Asia Department, ADB. Participants included transport, Customs, and shipping/ports officials from SASEC member countries, and staff and consultants from ADB and UNESCAP.