Seoul, the Republic of Korea, December 9, 2013
—In today’s interconnected world economy, efficient, reliable and cost-effective supply chains have become necessary in global trade since trading in a timely manner with minimal transaction costs allows a country to expand to overseas markets and improve its overall economic competitiveness, experts at a two-day conference found.
The World Bank Group, in partnership with the Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea Customs Service, and the Korea International Trade Association, hosted a regional conference on the theme “Enhancing Trade Logistics Connectivity Through Coordination, Transparency & Predictability.”
The conference showed that developing modern logistics services requires establishing reliable connections at affordable prices and optimizing networks through the integration of both international and local providers. It means reducing the cost of crossing the border by facilitating trade. It also entails improving the business environment to help users and suppliers of logistics services achieve economies of scale in their core businesses and creating the conditions necessary for logistics providers to offer valued-added services.
The conference brought together more than 40 experts from regional and multilateral organizations, private sector representatives and policy makers from the Ministries of Finance, Trade, Industry, Transport, and Agriculture, the Customs Bureau of Standards, and port authorities from more than 15 emerging markets and developing countries.
The event heightened participants’ awareness of recent developments, emerging trends and new focus areas in trade logistics. It allowed them to share lessons with an emphasis on three of the most critical themes in the context of countries’ commitments under the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement: improving multiagency coordination and private sector participation for cross-border trade; enhancing trade transparency through automation; and building supply-chain predictability for efficient trade logistics.
“As it is important to reflect on how trade and transport facilitation may evolve in the next few years, the event provided a platform for peer-to-peer learning and exchange to facilitate policy dialogue between practitioners from Korea, policymakers from Asia, and other best-practice countries working on trade logistics reforms,” said Pierre Guislain, Director of the Investment Climate Department of the World Bank Group.
On the second day of the event, participants shared and learned from each other’s challenges and achievements in implementing trade-facilitation reforms. They also discussed and agreed on specific future reform plans at the national or regional levels, depending on each country’s level of progress.
“With the goal of encouraging improvements in trade logistics and facilitating policy dialogue between practitioners from Korea, policymakers from the Asia region and other best practice countries working on trade logistics reforms, the event helped participants identify gaps, as well as sequence and prioritize reforms for implementation, particularly for countries seeking to improve their trade facilitation environment,” said Lee Myeong-Ku, Director General of Information Management and International Affairs Bureau, Korean Customs Service.
Participants agreed that reliability and predictability of the supply chains are the most important aspects of logistics performance as they directly affect firm competitiveness and the potential to diversify from time-insensitive commodities. A predictable supply chain is one that brings consistency to the supply, location, lead time, and data through innovative technology, transparency of regulations, and visibility of flows. To make that happen, countries need to improve multiagency coordination and private sector participation for their cross-border trade, and to enhance their trade transparency through automation. Feedback and knowledge generated during the event will inform policy and directly feed into the analytical preparation work and design of the World Bank Group’s assistance program, which aims to help developing countries prepare for the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Participants also took the opportunity to visit the Incheon Airport, where the Incheon AirPort Authority (Incheon Airport Customs, Express Cargo Company, Logistics) briefed them on the airport’s operation and showcased advanced trade-facilitation measures.
“The World Bank Group is committed to facilitating trade by improving access and connectivity to international markets,” said William Gain, Trade Logistics Program Manager of the Bank Group. “With this initiative, we seek to continue our efforts to help government agencies connect more efficiently with each other and businesses, thus making import and export clearance easier as well as reducing the burden of logistics costs to the private sector.”
About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world's largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit