African transport experts seek to facilitate trade with landlocked nations

15:20, February 21, 2011      

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African transport experts and stakeholders have taken concrete steps to foster trade facilitation with landlocked countries and deepen regional integration.

A statement from the World Bank which organized the meeting said on Monday that measures considered during a four-day meeting of the Regional Economic Communities Transport Coordination Committee that ended in Rwanda last week, included establishment of transit corridor observatories, setting up corridor management groups, and the preparation and distribution of a Trade Corridor Management Toolkit.

This toolkit, developed by the World Bank, will provide guidelines aimed at assisting agencies that work on corridor networks to monitor and manage their performance. "Emphasis was placed on landlocked countries, which face particular challenges as a result of their relative isolation.

On that point, participants stressed the importance of removing non-tariff barriers along transit corridors to ensure that landlocked countries gain easy access to the sea," the statement said. The meeting, which took place on Feb. 14-17 under the auspices of the Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP), with support from the Ministry of Infrastructure of Rwanda, brought together 70 experts from across Africa.

Participants included representatives of Regional Economic Communities (RECs), transport stakeholders from 21 countries, corridor management groups, transporter associations, as well as officials from the World Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the UN Economic Commission on Africa (UNECA).

The new REC-TCC Chairman Jean Paul Libibele stressed that the ownership of SSATP by member states and the Regional Economic Communities constitute the key element for ensuring successful implementation of the SSATP trade facilitation programme aimed at trade promotion, poverty reduction and regional integration.

The participants agreed to take steps to assist in harmonizing regulations so that carriers operating across country boundaries are not unnecessarily impeded by differences in legal requirements between countries and sub-regions. Another area of common accord was the need to develop systems for the timely collection and analysis of data on the performance of regional transport corridors.

Baseline surveys are already taking place along several corridors. The experts also agreed that Regional Economic Communities should assist in the implementation of road safety programs, especially along major trade corridors, in support to the UN Road Safety Decade of Action (2011-2020). Established in 1987, SSATP is a partnership made of 36 African countries with a mission to foster sound policies and strategies for the provision of reliable, safe, efficient, and affordable transport in Africa.

The Program is supported by multiple donors including the European Commission, the governments of Austria, Norway, Sweden, Britain, and the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, UNECA, as well as the World Bank.

Source: Xinhua

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