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USAID/CAR Trade Facilitation and investment Project – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan


The Pragma Corporation assisted USAID/CAR in its goal to expand opportunities for the citizens of the new nations of Central Asia to participate in improving their governance, their livelihoods, and their quality of life. The Trade Facilitation & Investment Project (TFI) was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Project operated in Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic in 2001-2006 and in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in 2002 - 2006. The goal of the Project was to improve the trade and investment environment for small and medium-sized enterprises. To accomplish this goal, the Project’s activities focused on the reduction of investment constraints, trade facilitation, accession to and active participation in the World Trade Organization and adopting international practices in the fields of Metrology, Accreditation, Standardization and Quality.

Removal of Investment Constraints

The removal of investment (RIC) constraints component focused on reducing the burden of government regulations, improving the procedures for initiating, drafting, reviewing and enforcing regulations, and promoting citizen, association, and business participation in the regulatory process. In addition, the component provided training to disseminate information and knowledge among SMEs and local government officials. Pragma worked toward the removal of investment constraints that impede operations and growth of businesses. At the national level, efforts focused on drafting and implementation of laws that remove constraints to SME trade and investment, and facilitate business growth. At the local level, the activity focused greater effort on dissemination, adoption and implementation of those laws in selected oblasts in each nation.

Within the RIC component, the Project worked directly with national governments, select oblast and city administrations and private sector business groups and associations to identify, analyze and reduce regulatory and bureaucratic constraints to trade, investment and business development. Together with these partners, the Project’s consultants helped draft, adopt and implement transparent, liberalized laws, regulations and procedures that created a more favorable environment for businesses to compete, innovate and grow. Results usually included the elimination of outdated laws and regulations, reduction of bureaucratic processes and procedural timeframes and costs, elimination of undue agency discretion and reduction in the number of documents required to establish or operate a business.

The project also provided technical assistance to its partners to adopt and apply its methodology for identifying and reducing administrative barriers. Some of the results of the Project’s RIC Component included:

  • Reductions in business licenses and permits and streamlining associated processes;

  • Expediting the import and export of goods;

  • Reducing the requirements connected to acquiring and developing real estate; and,

  • Simplifying the processes for registering and closing a business.

WTO Support

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international trade organization comprising of 147 countries and separate customs territories of the world. Its main function is to establish rules touching the wide spectrum of issues connected with the liberalization and regulation of international trade in goods, services and trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights. WTO ensures the observance of the basic principles of non-discrimination, national treatment and compliance with the rules and procedures governing the settlement of trade disputes. The principles and rules of WTO provide consistency, transparency, and predictability in international trade relations with the aim of facilitating the expansion of trade flows among the members and promoting their economic development.

One of the most important directions of the TFI Project’s activities was to render technical assistance to the Governments of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in their process of accession to the WTO, as well as to the Kyrgyz Republic in implementing the WTO Agreements and its accession commitments. Accession to the WTO would integrate the countries of Central Asia into the international trading system, open new markets to their products and services and permit them to effectively promote their economic trade interests in the international scene.

Some of Project’s activities included:

  • Technical assistance and support to the ministries and agencies responsible for WTO accession negotiations and membership.

  • Organization of seminars, workshops and training courses, at the national and regional levels, to increase the national and the regional capacity to implement the WTO Agreements.

  • Assistance in reviewing and drafting trade-related legislation and regulations to ensure their consistency with the WTO Agreements.

  • Responses to queries from Governmental agencies on WTO accession and implementation issues, including advice on the acceptance of international conventions, the establishment of enquiry points and assistance in the preparation and review of documentation and notifications.

  • Participation in Parliamentary hearings and other events concerning systemic trade policies and issues.

Customs Support

The Project’s Trade Facilitation and Customs Component focused on making it easier for businesses to deliver their products to market. To accomplish this objective, the Project:

  • Provided expert assistance to governments and business associations by ensuring that new customs legislation is developed in accordance with international standards and best practices;

  • Identified alternative ways to facilitate trade and transit and to remove barriers to the cross border movement of goods and conveyances in the region;

  • Provided assistance in the development of trade services to importers and exporters such as customs brokers and freight forwarders.

Some of the Component’s activities included:

  • Technical advice and support in the development and adoption of new Customs Codes in the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic;

  • Development and publication of an International Trade Guide and Integrated Tariff for Kazakhstan, and electronic publication of the Guide at <www.ca-trade.com>;

  • Assistance and support for the creation of Customs Consultative Councils in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, which served to facilitate dialogue between customs officials, traders and other stakeholders and resolve trade-related issues.

Metrology, Accreditation, Standardization and Quality (MAS-Q) Component

The MAS-Q Component focused on improving trade facilitation and market access by creating awareness of international MAS-Q norms and promoting the benefits of international standards and mutual recognition of certification and accreditation results.

Achieving mutual recognition for the countries in Central Asia consisted of two parallel paths; one technical, the other legal and regulatory. The technical path involved strengthening and aligning the technological MAS-Q base of the standards and metrology bodies in the region to a level that would be recognized and accepted by the international MAS-Q community. The legal and regulatory path focused on strengthening the legal framework and harmonization process of national quality laws, standards, technical regulations and policies to be consistent with international norms and WTO compliant.

Some of the MAS-Q Component’s activities included:

  • The formal establishment of the Central Asian Cooperation on Metrology, Accreditation, Standardization and Quality (CAC-MAS-Q), which strived to align the MAS-Q activities of the four countries in the region in order to achieve international mutual recognition of accreditation and certification activities;

  • Implementation of a training program for regional technical specialists to become internationally recognized assessors to perform accreditation of testing and calibration laboratories in full compliance with the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025;

  • Assistance in draft of WTO-compliant laws on technical regulations and conformity assessment in all countries in the region.

  • A donation of $3.8 million by the US Navy and the Boeing Corporation of scientific instrumentation and electronic test equipment was made to the standards and metrology bodies of Central Asia. Training in the use and application of the equipment was also provided.

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