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Cutting Costs and Improving Trade in Europe and Central Asia - The World Bank Group brings government and businesses together to share experiences on trade facilitation reforms and enhance border coordination

MONTENEGRO, Becici, Budva, September 19, 2017 —The World Bank Group’s Trade Facilitation Support Program (TFSP), in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance of Montenegro, is hosting a Coordinated Border Management learning event to improve collaboration between border agencies and the private sector, and make moving and clearing goods faster and cheaper.
Over 60 stakeholders from 16 countries in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) will attend the two-day, peer-to-peer event, including representatives from customs agencies, sanitary, phytosanitary and veterinary agencies, ministries of economy and finance, and the private sector. Participants will share their experiences and challenges related to border management and agency coordination, and discuss best practices and potential solutions.
“The government of Montenegro is fully committed to the reforms advocated by the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), as the establishment of our National Trade Facilitation Committee confirms ,” said Montenegro's Deputy Minister of Finance and Co-Chair of the NTFC, Honorable Novo Radovic. “This event will be an excellent opportunity to hear about best practices in border agency collaboration, as well as to exchange views with colleagues from the region.”
According to the World Bank Group’s 2017 Doing Business Report, it takes over two days to export and import in the ECA region, compared to less than one day in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Similarly, exporting and importing is up to two times costlier in ECA than in the OECD. Improved coordination and collaboration amongst border agencies could substantially reduce the time and cost to trade in ECA.
Border agency collaboration has been championed by the World Customs Organization, the World Bank Group and other international organizations, and is embedded in the border control strategies of many countries worldwide. Its importance was highlighted by the TFA, which aims to reduce trade costs and help countries connect to regional and global markets. The agreement, which came into force in February, requires members’ border control authorities to cooperate and coordinate their activities to facilitate trade.
“The World Bank Group estimates a global gain of up to $200 billion per year by reducing the time spent at customs and better coordinating border management. Our Trade Facilitation Support Program focuses on supporting the effective implementation of the TFA and related reforms, as well as improving knowledge sharing, peer-to-peer learning , and the measurement of progress and results,” said Paulo Correa, a World Bank Group Practice Manager for Trade and Competitiveness in Europe and Central Asia.
“This peer-to-peer event is an ideal mechanism to create regional and national networks to ensure the continuous improvement of trade facilitation reforms in Europe and Central Asia,” said Thomas Lubeck, IFC Regional Manager for Central and South East Europe. Greater efficiency in trading across borders will boost the competitiveness of our regional firms and help create more jobs .”
The Trade Facilitation Support Program provides support for countries seeking assistance in aligning their trade practices with the WTO TFA and related reforms.  More than 60 countries have requested assistance since its launch in 2014, with implementation support beginning in more than 34 countries, including 10 in ECA. Seven partners have committed a total of $32 million to the program, including Australia, Canada, the European Commission, Norway, Switzerland, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
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