First Focal Points’ Meeting: Promoting cross-border electronic information exchange for efficient railway transport and transit in East and North-East Asia

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August 23
 – August 24

Over the last decade, trains plying through the China-Europe rail routes have increased exponentially. Notwithstanding the rise in transit rail traffic volume along the China-Mongolia-Russian Federation Economic Corridor, outstanding issues and gaps on operational connectivity related to trade and transport facilitation have undermined the potential of the corridor.

There are gaps in the implementation of trade facilitation measures among the three countries. Mongolia’s trade facilitation score stands at 50.54%, far below relative to China and the Russian Federation, based on the 2023 UN Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation. The implementation of cross-border paperless trade measures most relevant to support cross-border electronic information exchange is low, a bottleneck in the effective operation of the corridor.

Nonetheless, recent developments provide momentum and opportunities to address these issues. For one, China and Mongolia are parties to the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific. The Agreement’s implementation is gaining traction with substantive discussions on detailed work plan following the second session of the Agreement’s Standing Committee held in June 2023. In addition, China and the Russian Federation, through the Working Group on Trans-Asian Railway Network, have signaled support to enhance railway efficiency through a stronger railway-customs interface.

The focal points’ meeting is part of the project to enhance railway efficiency along the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor through cross-border electronic information exchange. Funded under the China-ESCAP Cooperation Programme (CECP), the project involves customs and railway officials and other stakeholders involved in rail transport and transit along the corridor.