On 24-28 October 2016 Korean Customs Service (KCS) hosted the 5th Trade Facilitation Capacity Building Workshop of the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI) in Seoul which was co-organized by the GTI Secretariat. The workshop has been held since 2012 to facilitate trade in Northeast Asia through knowledge sharing among national and local government officials, custom officials from GTI member countries as well as experts from international organisations, research institutes, and the private sector.

This year’s workshop specifically addressed the topics “Standardisation in Trade Facilitation” and “Paperless Trade for better Risk Management”. Government and custom officials from China, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, and the Russian Federation shared their experience and insights on trade activities and challenges in Northeast Asia. Representative from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the ANDEAN Community (CAN), World Customs Organisation (WCO), UNESCAP, and UNIDO ITPO presented on regional and international experiences on holistic scopes as well as the selected best practices.

Presenters highlighted recent improvements in the region but also pointed out the need for more exchange between GTI member countries regarding border crossing procedures. Moreover, Theo Hesselink from WCO emphasised to not only look at the customs on the border but to also address further agencies involved in border crossing processes. GIZ supported the workshop with an input on “Facilitate safe agricultural trade Experiences from EU integration” that explained how EU food standards harmonised gradually over time and by this providing examples for future cooperation among GTI member and strengthening regional cooperation within the agricultural sector.