The average transport costs of a landlocked country are 50% higher than for coastal economies. This can be explained through the fact that an additional 1000 km distance through sea transportation increases the cost by $190 while the same increase of distance through land transportation will incur a cost raise by $1380.[i]
The Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program regularly monitors and analyses transport routes crossing Central Asian countries. According to its recently published Corridor Performance Measurement Annual Report for 2013 there has been some improvements on the border crossing clearing time, which from 2012 moved from 10,9 hours to 10,0 hours in 2013. However, transit route through Tajikistan is considered to be one of the slowest corridors with an average speed of 18 km/h. For instance, border crossing waiting time in Shirkhan Bandar (Afghanistan) – Nizhniy Pyanj (Tajikistan) at either node can be over 9 hours. Other useful calculations made in the Report concern the costs of travel through Corridor #5 (Karamyk, Dushanbe, Kurgantyube, Nizniy, Pyanj) where carrying a 20-ton container on a 500 km route will cost $2392.60. By comparing the information above it is easy to understand how the transport route through Tajikistan is not profitable for shipping.
It is identified that crossing borders are becoming the most time consuming issue for transportation when traveling through Central Asian countries. Particularly it is surprising since in the recent past these countries have had no borders between each other. This is often due to complex custom clearing procedures with a number of agencies involved at both sides of the border.
In one of the previous Briefs (Brief #6, WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement on World trade agenda) the newly adopted WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement provisions and its importance for simplification of border crossing procedures was covered. It is hoped that through implementation of Trade Facilitation Agreement provisions which includes harmonization, standardization, regional cooperation and automation the existed impediments can be improved to facilitate smoother traffic flow through Tajikistan.
Indeed, even though there are several transport routes connecting Central and Southern Asian countries, each transiting country is interested in having the most advantageous transiting routes since there is a tight connection between transportation flows and improved living standards.
In this context, the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement has a detailed article (Article 7) that sets out the procedures which Member States are obliged to establish or maintain for the release and clearance of goods for import, export or transit. It is a pleasure seeing Tajikistan as one of the first Member that is interested on making its transport corridor attractive for shipments by implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement provisions.
This WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement echoes what has been achieved in the recent years where there has been a growing trend among customs authorities to develop programs that allow traders to benefit from additional trade facilitation measures. These additional include measures such as rapid release, reduced documentation and data requirements, and fewer physical inspections. Tajikistan is not an exemption and can be listed among those who follow this trend since the country is also interested on improving its worldwide business climate measurement rankings[ii]. Indeed, an instance of these additional trade facilitation measures can be found in the adoption by Tajikistan Government on July 3, 2014 of the so called decree “On coordination rules of control agencies at the customs border of Tajikistan as one stop shop principle”, #436.
Basically this Decree defines the “one stop” principle for joint actions of state control agencies represented at the border, including: Customs Service, State Service for Supervision and Regulation of Transport, State Veterinary Service, State Phytosanitary and Plant Quarantine Service, State Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance Control Agency. “One Stop Shop” – is a mechanism that allows entrepreneurs in limited time period to go through all prescribed control procedures at single checkpoint in the border.
The objective of this Brief is to explain what do these measures mean and how they are going to help traders to cross borders.
- Hereby the coordination of the veterinary and phytosanitary control, sanitary and epidemiological monitoring and transport control activities are the responsibility of the customs authorities located at the border check point. In practice it means that the Customs is responsible for the organization of a single inspection where all other agencies can join. The Customs also organizes the information exchange between the agencies represented at the border. Proper organization of the verification process can help reduce the time required for the release of goods at a checkpoint by combining various processes and coordination of these bodies in relation to the clearing of goods.
- Two copies of special “Coupon” will be issued when a transport vehicle enters the customs check point.
- One copy of the “Coupon” remains with the customs authority when the transport vehicle leaves the checkpoint.
- The “Coupon” issuance for the transport vehicle owner is free of charge.
- The customs officer checks the submitted transport documents for verification, makes the necessary registration on the Registry and “Coupon” itself. After this all the documents are passed to officials of the other regulatory bodies to go through the necessary verifications in accordance with the checking bodies’ competence.
- Officials of controlling bodies must put on “Coupon” start and end time of verification checking. This procedure may not last more than two hours for all regulatory bodies, regardless of its complexity.
- If there is any violation of an international treaty or a national law of Tajikistan, the relevant supervising authority must make the necessary remarks on the “Coupon” as well as on the Registry wherein both copies of “Coupon” are withdrawn.
- After completing the documentation verification controls, the customs official organizes a joint inspection of the vehicle and goods. Were it necessary, the customs officer decides on holding a joint inspection by using a risk management methodology.
- Inspection and control of goods can be done only in the customs control zone.
- This inspection and control can only be made by the national law authorized agencies’ representatives.
Since according to the Government Decree the Customs Service will be fulfilling the coordinating role it is also responsible to develop a Guidance Implementation Program with detail description of the one stop shop principle implementation at the checkpoint of each agency involved to export, import and transit procedures. According to the Customs authorities the Guidance Implementation Program will be ready in a short period of time after which all agencies representatives will be trained. It is expected that the Nizhniy Pyanj Border Crossing Point will be a first pilot area.
For useful information related to export, import and transit you may visit the following web site :
For any additional information you may contact the Customs Service through:
Tel.: 2211692 or 2232627
[i] Limão and Venables (2000). Infrastructure, Geographical Disadvantages and Transport Costs. World Bank
[ii] Tajikistan’s overall ranking in the 2014 edition of the Doing Business Report is 143 out of 189 countries in the world. Tajikistan remains close to the bottom in trade relevant areas. Tajikistan is ranked 188th in the Trading Across Borders indicator. www.doingbusiness.org