ADB, Japan Help GMS Countries Continue Push For Seamless Cross Border Trade

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (3 October 2014) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Government of Japan are providing technical assistance to help Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) member countries tackle weaknesses in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) procedures, which are undermining cross border trade flows.

The technical assistance, financed by a $2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), will build on an ongoing ADB project for Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Viet Nam that is addressing institutional and operational capacity gaps in SPS agencies. The new assistance will provide more capacity for analysis of SPS procedures and consultation with GMS countries.

“Current systems are not well harmonized, and there is limited cooperation between SPS agencies and customs,” said Lingling Ding, Principal Trade Specialist at ADB. “The assistance will help develop more rigorous SPS management systems and closer links with customs agencies to boost trade in the GMS.”

GMS member countries have made huge strides in rolling out cross border infrastructure like roads and fast-track customs checkpoints in recent years. But SPS management and procedures have not kept up, resulting in substantial border delays in clearing goods.

The assistance will be used to analyze ways to boost information sharing and risk profiling with customs agencies, and to identify areas that may require investment such as information and communications technology equipment. The analysis will help pave the way for the eventual automation of SPS agencies and establishment of national single trade ”windows” to boost the cross border flow of goods.

The target is a 15% annual increase in GMS trade in agriculture, food and forestry products by 2020 (from a 2011 baseline trade figure of over $20 billion). The technical assistance project will run for just under 3 years with an estimated completion date of August 2017.

Last Updated: 3 October 2014