Distinctive features of ESCAP LLDCs are reflected as differences related to transport connectivity however, if analyzed as a group and compared with their coastal neighbors, the ESCAP LLDCs are clearly in disadvantageous position.
Although many LLDCs in the region have managed to achieve significant progress over the years in improving their transport connectivity, the challenges to enhance the efficiency of transport linkages within and beyond the region remain. In this background the present study elucidates on the outstanding challenges to port hinterland connectivity for LLDCs and proposes recommendations.
Presently Central Asia sub-region is better integrated, with wider participation in international conventions/agreements related to transit transport. Southeast Asia and South Asia sub-regions have sporadic participation in such international arrangements, and transit transport is mainly regulated on bilateral level.
The large number of conventions / international agreements, sub-regional, multilateral / bilateral arrangements create very complex legal environment that is difficult to implement, which proves the need of further harmonization and simplification.
Despite the progress achieved in recent years, the implementation of the legal arrangements (conventions / agreements) relevant to transit transport in the region remains to be challenging due to several reasons that include lack of sufficient harmonization; lack of simplified procedures; and inefficient cooperation mechanisms among control authorities.
Outstanding challenges to seamless transport linkages of ESCAP LLDCs include: challenges related to infrastructure and physical barriers (e.g. quality of infrastructure, border crossing infrastructure shortages, financing gaps); challenges at getaway ports in transit countries (e.g. port inefficiency, lack of coordination); transit transport challenges (e.g. high costs, low cargo volumes, unreliable demand, inefficient Customs transit procedures); challenges at border crossings (e.g. congestions, delays, cumbersome Customs controls, inefficient transloading of cargo); corridor management issues.
International transit transport supported by efficient Customs transit systems is one of the key elements for improved transport connectivity of LLDCs. Analysis of existing transit transport regimes in ESCAP region, with a focus on embedded Customs transit systems (TIR System, AFAFGIT ACTS; GMS CBTA; EAEU Customs Transit; European Convention on Common Transit and NCTS) shows that that each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages. In general, efficient Customs transit systems are characterized by harmonized Customs transit procedures and use of international Customs transit systems; use of electronic paperless Customs transit systems; use of simplified Customs procedures beneficial for transport and trade communities.
Railway transport has proven most resilient in the time of pandemic with high reliability and advantages of being less exposed to the risks of restrictions. Key areas of opportunities for railways to enhance their competitiveness in post pandemic period include harmonization and digitalization of railway operations and railway documents; establishing efficient electronic information exchange between neighboring railways; better integration of railways with other modes of transport and collaboration between railways other relevant transport and logistics stakeholders.
ESCAP member countries are encouraged to consider (or continue negotiations) for introduction of new paperless Customs transit systems with electronic transport tracking based on characteristics identified for development of efficient Customs systems and specific recommendations provided with this Study.
Main policy recommendations to improve port-hinterland transport connectivity for LLDCs identified with this study are to: increase port efficiency at getaway ports in transit countries; develop and implement favorable transit transport arrangements; improve physical transport infrastructure and enhance its efficiency; support establishing dry-ports and improve intermodal facilities; develop and implement efficient customs transit regimes; harmonize and facilitate border crossing operations; establish efficient corridor management mechanisms; expand investment and financing options.
Please contact: Mr. Sandeep Raj Jain, Transport Division, ESCAP at [email protected]