From e-commerce to paperless borders: How digitalization is revolutionizing trade
Policymakers, businesses and academia explore the transformative potential of digitalization in Central Asia.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) with the Ministry of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan held a side event at the Astana International Forum on 8 June 2023 to highlight digital technologies for better cross-border trade.
The session explored the cross-dimensional impact of digitalization on the overall trade landscape in the region. Built upon the results of ITC’s Ready4Trade Central Asia project, which is funded by the European Union (EU), the session focused on the interlinkages between e-commerce, domestic and regional/international policies and regulatory reforms, as well as paperless trade and “smart” cross-border trade procedures.
- Digital inclusion as a critical element for harnessing the full potential of cross-border trade and e-commerce.
- Leveraging digital technologies to reduce time and costs of trade.
- Promoting “smart” solutions at the borders for sustainable trade practices.
Discussions also addressed the perspective of customs authorities on how emerging technologies can be leveraged to streamline trade operations, reduce cost and time of cross-border transactions, but also make borders safer and more efficient. Representatives from the private sector provided valuable insights on the challenges and opportunities they are facing at border checkpoints, including on needing digital solutions to support customs administrations and promoting paperless trade measures.
Participants emphasized trade and connectivity as catalysts for peace and prosperity in the region and acknowledged the support provided to Central Asia by the EU and ITC in promoting trade facilitation and digitalization.
“Central Asia is a pivotal region when we talk about connectivity between East and West,” said Terhi Hakala, EU Special Representative for Central Asia. “The EU is a committed partner for smart and sustainable connectivity for the region as a key element for sustainable, stable and sovereign economic development. The EU-funded Ready4Trade Central Asia Programme is an excellent example of working together to remove regulatory and procedural hurdles for trade, and with the new Team Europe Initiative on Digital Connectivity the EU will enhance digital connectivity by enabling investment and promoting good governance in the digital sphere.”
Kairat Balykbaev, the Vice Minister of Trade and Integration of Kazakhstan, added: “As part of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project, we are happy to facilitate useful tools in trade for small businesses, such as the Kazakhstan Trade Portal that details procedures for import, export and transit, and the regional trade portal Central Asia Gateway.”
Pierre Bonthonneau, Trade Facilitation Adviser at the International Trade Centre concluded: “Digitalization is one of the global trends that reshapes the Central Asian trade landscape. We are pleased to see our partner countries increasingly committed to fostering digital inclusion, leveraging digital technologies to reduce the time and cost of trade, and promoting “smart” solutions at the borders to increase the sustainability of trade.”