Trade facilitation - ADB

Trade facilitation - ADB

Information dated: 2017

Dongxiang LI

Lead Regional Cooperation and Integration (RCI) Specialist

Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department
Asian Development Bank

Tel: +632 632 1620

E-mail: dongxiangli [at] adb.org


Fahad KHAN


Regional Cooperation and Integration Division (ERCI)

Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department
Asian Development Bank

Tel: +632 632 4456

Fax: +632 636 2183

E-mail: fkhan [at] adb.org

Initiatives for subregional programs

ADB has actively supported trade facilitation over the years as a means to increase investment and trade, within the context of significantly contributing to poverty reduction in Asia and the Pacific. Trade facilitation remains a key component of ADB’s subregional programs: Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC), Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

ADB has actively promoted good practices in trade facilitation through a series of partnerships with other international organizations. ADB’s partnership with the World Customs Organization has helped developing member countries (DMCs) improve their customs procedures. The partnership with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has provided ADB’s DMCs a platform for sharing knowledge on trade facilitation challenges and experiences at the regional level. Based on the lessons and recommendations from past ADB projects, and the partnership memorandum of understanding between ADB and ESCAP, ADB’s technical assistance (TA) will continue to support trade facilitation in the region, particularly the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum (APTFF). The APTFF has built the capacities of over 1,000 DMC officials since 2009 and has launched knowledge products to guide the design, implementation, and monitoring of trade facilitation.

At the meetings of the SASEC trade facilitation and transport working group (TFTWG) in 2010–2012, the governments of SASEC countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal) requested continued support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on SASEC trade facilitation. ADB approved in November 2012 SASEC Trade Facilitation Program loans and grants to Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal to help develop modern customs administrations, streamline regulations and procedures, and provide improved services and information to traders. In addition, at the SASEC TFTWG meeting held in Thimphu, Bhutan, in November 2012, SASEC country delegations (i) agreed to expand assistance to trade facilitation further through additional TA to ensure full support for ongoing initiatives and (ii) requested ADB to explore the possibility of providing TA to respond to the specific trade facilitation needs of SASEC countries. The impact of the TA will be more efficient, transparent, secure, and service-oriented processing of cross-border trade in South Asia.

The GMS Transport and Trade Facilitation Action Program (TTF-AP) is an integrated program of advisory support and capacity building focused on enhancing cross-border transport and trade in the subregion. The TTF-AP supports the development of a more integrated GMS market that can serve as a vibrant subregional production base. The TTF-AP’s core work focuses on: (1) expanding transport and traffic rights along GMS corridors, particularly the North-South, East-West and Southern Economic Corridors; (2) simplifying and modernizing customs procedures and border management, including transit systems in the GMS; (3) supporting enhanced transport and logistics in the GMS; and (4) strengthening the capacity of sanitary and phytosanitary agencies in the GMS.

ADB also provided assistance through a program called Regional ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Support Program– Programmatic Approach and policy-based loans (PBLs) that support the Philippines, Cambodia and Lao PDR in implementing their commitments to the ASEAN Economic Community. It focuses on three policy outputs: (i) trade integration including rationalization of Non-Tariff Measures, liberalization of trade in services, trade facilitation and customs modernization (ii) capital markets integration and investments. (iii) good regulatory practice and competitive markets. To adequately prepare countries for the AEC program, ADB will be providing technical assistance to the countries listed. Another technical assistance supports customs administrations in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam to (i) enhance their preparedness in operationalization of the ASEAN Customs Transit System, (ii) to implement the GMS Cross Border Transport Facilitation Agreement (CBTA) and (iii) annual GMS Transport and Trade Facilitation Development Partners Meeting including WCO, WB, ESCAP, ASEAN Secretariat, DFAT, JICA, USAID, and EU.

In CAREC, the Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy 2020 aims to improve the region’s competitiveness and expand trade among CAREC economies and the rest of the world. Key elements of the Strategy are coordinated improvements of transport infrastructure and trade facilitation, including harmonized cross-border regulations, procedures, and standards along priority transport corridors. These improvements will result in significant and measurable reductions in transport costs and time for local, cross-border, and transit traffic, and trade along the corridors. The Strategy entails a time-bound and detailed implementation action plan (the Action Plan) that was prepared in consultation with and endorsed by Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) countries and external aid agencies in 2008. The Action Plan specifies the key results, prioritizes investments and technical assistance (TA) projects, provides measurable performance indicators, and defines overall institutional arrangements for implementation. Some key trade facilitation projects in the region include Regional Improvement of Border Services (RIBS) in Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, and Mongolia. The projects modernize border cross points and develop single windows in borrowing countries in coordination with neighboring countries along the CAREC transport corridors. Also notable is a project on Upgrade of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measure for Trade (RUST) Mongolia, to modernize central and border SPS laboratories and improve information management systems.