On 27 November 2020, the OECD and the EU held a capacity-building webinar for the government of Kazakhstan on trade facilitation, with the support of Georgian experts.
The webinar was an opportunity to address policy challenges for improving trade facilitation in Kazakhstan, and to look at where experience from OECD and non-member OECD countries could help Kazakhstan’s policy-makers. The webinar brought together senior policy-makers from Kazakhstan, experts from Georgia and the OECD, a number of stakeholders from the international development and diplomatic community. This event forms part of the Policy Component of the EU Central Asia Invest Programme.
Opening the session, Vice-Minister of Trade and Integration Kairat Torebayev underlined the importance of improving trade facilitation for Kazakhstan to help counter the impact of COVID-19 on global trade. Mr Johannes Stenbaek-Madsen, Head of Co-operation at the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan, reminded that the EU remains Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner and aims to expand trade relations further. He also highlighted the key role of trade in the recovery from the current crisis.
Ms Amélie Schurich-Rey (OECD Eurasia Division) presented the main findings of the OECD’s Improving the Legal Environment for Business report for Kazakhstan. Whilst Kazakhstan suffers from a geographically imposed connectivity penalty, ‘soft’ infrastructure challenges, namely the management of borders and customs, were of even greater importance for its trade.
During the first capacity-building session, Ms Evdokia Moïsé of the OECD’s Directorate for Trade and Agriculture explained how Kazakhstan’s regulatory and institutional trade settings translated into its performance in the OECD’s Trade Facilitation Indicators (TFIs). Ms Moïsé highlighted a number of areas where Kazakhstan could make improvements, such as expanding co-ordination between Kazakhstan’s border agencies and those of its neighbours, as well as the interoperability of Kazakhstan’s single window.
The second capacity-building session featured a presentation from Mr Samson Uridia and Ms Irina Sigua of the Georgia Revenue Service on their country’s efforts to integrate and streamline border procedures. At a time when COVID-19 has caused significant disruptions to cross-border trade flows, both underlined the need to provide more certainty and simplicity to exporters and importers. They noted the value of collecting data with their integrated one-stop-shop, and using those data to inform other policy decisions, which also requires greater co-ordination between public agencies and ICT interoperability.
Participants were invited to take part in an instant poll and considered that the automation of customs procedures, the simplification of formalities, the regional harmonisation of procedures and the development of trade skills were all equally important issues.
The session was concluded by Mr Kanat Olzhabayev, Director of the Ministry of Trade and Integration’s International Relations Department, who emphasised that, as Kazakhstan and its regional peers start to build their recovery from the shocks of 2020, better co-operation and trading conditions between them will be crucial as outlined today.