Transport Facilitation and Connecting Subregional Transport Networks

India, Petrapole Border Crossing  Photo credit: UN ESCAP/Heini Suominen

Transport connectivity plays a central role in regional and subregional integration and is critical for enhancing economic cooperation, closing development gaps and enabling sustainable development. To achieve such connectivity, both infrastructure development, the ‘hardware’ of connectivity, and the facilitation of cross-border and transit transport, the ‘software’ of connectivity, need to be in place.

However, review of development in cross-border and transit transport in the Asian-Pacific region shows that international transport still faces substantial difficulties across the region due to various non-physical barriers.

Recognizing these difficulties, ESCAP supports the efficient and smooth movement of goods, passengers and vehicles by road and rail across the region through the promotion of transport facilitation measures, including at border crossings, as well as by strengthening connectivity between subregions.

To achieve this, ESCAP is developing regional strategic frameworks for both road and rail transport. These frameworks can help ESCAP members, associate members, and development partners in formulating transport facilitation policies, agreements, programmes and projects in a coordinated and consistent way.

In order to help build an effective legal regime and technical capacity in the region, a regional network of legal and technical experts for transport facilitation has been established. A set of facilitation models, namely Secure Cross-border Transport Model, Efficient Cross-border Transport Models, Model on Integrated Controls at Border Crossings and Time/Cost-Distance Methodology, have also been developed to assist ESCAP countries in removing non-physical barriers with innovative institutional, operational and technological solutions. In addition, policy and technical guidelines have also been prepared (see relevant publications for more details).

ESCAP, together with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), has also supported for many years the Project Working Group (PWG) on Transport and Border Crossing of the Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA), which aims at facilitating transport in this subregion.

Through all these initiatives, ESCAP provides policy support, technical assistance and capacity building for countries in the region to conceive, plan, formulate and implement measures of transport facilitation.