Within the framework of a UN project on “Capacity-Building through Cooperation in Developing Inter-Regional Land and Land-Cum Sea Transport Linkages” being implemented by the five UN regional commissions, wherein UN-ESCWA is the overall coordinator, the Commission conducted six national workshops in cooperation with concerned governmental entities on International Goods Transport Facilitation during November and December 2006 in Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.
Discussions focused on introducing the project, its objectives, activities and accomplishments, and the current status of the national transport and trade facilitation committees. Discussions also covered issues related to: facilitating international goods transport and cross-border procedures from the viewpoint of the importer, exporter, transporter and government; the standards and role of international conventions and electronic business in facilitating international goods transport; and the role of national transport and trade facilitation committees in removing obstacles to the flow of goods across borders in the Arab Mashreq.
Participants came up with a number of recommendations, namely: considering trade and transport facilitation part of the general trade policy of the government; implementing such policies as one package in coordination among the concerned entities; activating national transport and trade facilitation committees to undertake their duties in accordance with a comprehensive action plan implemented in a balanced, integrated and gradual manner based on the recommendations of previous UN-ESCWA studies and meetings as well as the recommendations of the six national workshops.
The recommendations also included requesting UN-ESCWA to prepare a comprehensive comparative study covering UN-ESCWA Eastern Mediterranean member countries based on the national transport and trade facilitation studies conducted during 2004 and 2005. UN-ESCWA was also requested to continue providing needed support to member countries in activating the national transport and trade facilitation committees, to coordinate among them at the regional level, and to assist them in implementing the recommendations of the workshops in cooperation with all concerned parties.