In light of today’s triple planetary crisis, one challenge for governments is to ensure that growth goes hand in hand with the development of green, inclusive and prosperous societies. This is even more challenging in today’s rapidly evolving global economy, which requires agile, flexible economies, capable of adapting to increased competition, without compromising on social and environmental objectives. Regulatory and policy frameworks, including trade regulations as well as environmental, social and governance related import requirements play a key role in this regard, creating both, challenges and opportunities.
Kazakhstan is emerging as a major trade, transport and logistic hub in Central Asia, but regulatory and procedural barriers prevent it from enjoying the full potential of regional and global trade. Ten years ago, a UNECE regulatory and procedural barriers to trade study found that the country had a low share of companies affected by non-tariff trade barriers in comparison with other countries of similar development status. This was related to the fact that Kazakhstan’s export portfolio was mostly composed of mineral-based manufactures and, to a lesser extent non-perishable agri-food goods, namely exports of non-perishable products such as wheat, flour, non-alcoholic beverages and confectionery products, which faced fewer restrictions than fresh products. Furthermore, a significant proportion of Kazakhstan’s agri-food exports went to neighbouring countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan which had less stringent phytosanitary requirements at that time.
Kazakhstan’s position in the world economy has changed significantly over the last ten years. The country has acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2015 and has since made efforts to adapt to the rise of new technologies, digital trade and more demanding consumers that look as much to quality of products as well as to the sustainability of production processes. If Kazakhstan’s export strategy aims to add value by increasing linkages along regional and global value chains, identifying new barriers to trade and addressing legal and institutional pitfalls will become crucial to success.
These challenges were at the centre of discussion at a roundtable held by UNECE at the Astana International Forum with support of the United Nations Resident Coordinator Office in Kazakhstan and Qaztrade Center for Trade Policy Development. The purpose of the roundtable was to provide action-oriented advice to authorities. In his opening speech, Mr Kairat Torebayev, Vice-Minister of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan, emphasized that “with the help of UNECE research and expertise, Kazakhstan looks forward to receiving valuable recommendations and solutions to help us improve our regulatory and procedural framework in trade.”
The goal of the roundtable was to hear stakeholders’ concerns on trade barriers and assesses products to be covered under the new UNECE Study on Regulatory and Procedural Barriers to Trade in Kazakhstan, which will be undertaken in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Qaztrade Center for Trade Policy Development. The findings of the study will help improve trade facilitation and quality infrastructure conditions and assist authorities in prioritizing policy reforms towards removing technical barriers to trade, thus contributing to more seamless commerce and supporting the country’s integration into regional and global value chains.
The forthcoming session of the UNECE Steering Committee on Trade Capacity and Standards, which will take place on 26-27 June, will focus on action-oriented recommendations in the context of the recently conducted Studies on Regulatory and Procedural Barriers to Trade in Kyrgyzstan and the Republic of Moldova. Other segments of the committee’s session will also discuss UNECE’s work on regulatory and procedural barriers to trade in the context of the UNECE cross-cutting topics of the circular economy (69th Commission session) and digital and green transformations (70th Commission session).
Note to editors
UNECE assists its member States to better integrate into the world economy and to harness trade, innovation and infrastructure financing and investment for sustainable development in the region. UNECE normative tools cover many diverse areas, ranging from trade facilitation and agricultural quality standards to ESG traceability of supply chains, innovation and public private partnerships. UNECE also specifically supports its 17 programme countries in Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe, in close cooperation with UN Country Teams.