ASHGABAT (TCA) — Turkmenistan has teamed up with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to establish an online trade facilitation portal in the country under the Ready4Trade Central Asia project funded by the European Union. One of the first steps to that end was the organization of a technical training held on October 19-28. This training, the fourth run in a series of online capacity-building activities in Central Asian countries, follows the successful online pilot trainings organized in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, the Delegation of the European Union to Turkmenistan reported.
Turkmenistan’s Trade Facilitation Portal is set to increase transparency, harmonize trade procedures, and promote a coherent business environment for traders and SMEs in the region. Based on the existing ITC-UNCTAD model, Turkmenistan’s national trade portal will be a key addition to the already existing 20+ portals worldwide, thus allowing for a better understanding of procedures among all those countries.
Commodity-specific, this online portal will be a one-stop shop of Turkmen cross-border laws, regulations, duties and taxes. Export and import procedures information will be available on the platform, making it easier for traders, particularly in the textiles, carpets, household chemicals and agricultural sectors, to understand cross-border trade-related procedures for their products.
The Ministry of Trade and Foreign Economic Relations of Turkmenistan (MTFER) participated in the training, as the entity which will establish and operationalize the Trade Facilitation Portal in Turkmenistan. In particular, the online training workshop supported the technical team in charge of maintaining the online portal, and encompassed orientation training for the portal establishment process, including its strategic alignment to existing websites, user interface review, data collection methodology, and content management.
“Talking from the long-term perspective, one of the objectives of Ready4Trade Central Asia project is to enhance the transparency of cross-border regulatory requirements and reducing information collection procedural obstacles for businesses, especially for SMEs. The Trade Facilitation Portal will specifically address those issues and further improve the capacity of Turkmenistan to conduct cross-border trade,” said Rustam Alymov, ITC National Project Coordinator in Turkmenistan.
The initiative broadly resonates with Turkmenistan’s recently obtained status of observer at the World Trade Organization (WTO), which was granted to the country on 22 July 2020. Turkmenistan became the last former Soviet republic to establish a formal relationship with the WTO. The request of Turkmenistan for observer status was submitted in May 2020, when the country indicated its willingness to initiate negotiations for WTO accession within a period of five years. Turkmenistan’s observer status strengthens the country’s position in international trade and represents a first important step in providing guarantees and transparency, which should attract foreign investments. Moreover, this observer status also allows Turkmenistan to become familiar with WTO rules and procedures.
“The European Union (EU) gives great importance to Turkmenistan’s accession to WTO because of the positive effects it will have on the future development of the country. The EU and ITC will support and assist Turkmenistan in this long process of economic adaptation. Besides, one of the main pillars of EU’s strategy for Central Asia is the promotion of interregional cooperation and regional economic integration. In this context, launching a portal devoted to capacity building and trade facilitation serves to all the above mentioned objectives of the EU priorities in Turkmenistan,” said Ambassador of the European Union Delegation in Turkmenistan Diego Ruiz Alonso.
With the project ‘Ready4Trade Central Asia’, the European Union (EU) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) are joining forces to contribute to the overall sustainable and inclusive economic development of Central Asia by boosting intra-regional and international trade in the region. Beneficiaries of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project include governments, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), in particular women led enterprises, and Business Support Organizations (BSOs). The project operates in five Central Asian countries.