Having regard to the need for improving the customs practices in an effort to contribute to trade facilitation in the Silk Road region, Turkish Customs Administration has launched Silk Road Customs Initiative among the Silk Road Customs Administrations. This initiative was introduced at the “First International Forum on the Role of Customs Administration on Facilitating and Promoting Trade among Silk Road Countries” which was held on 25 October 2008 in Antalya, Turkey. Antalya Declaration was adopted at the Forum.
The main purpose of the initiative was to revitalize ancient Silk Road, turn it into a preferable route and to increase the trade and transportation volume between Europe and China and among the countries on this route through harmonization, facilitation and acceleration of border crossing procedures among Silk Road Countries.
Following the first forum,
• The 2nd International Silk Road Forum, during which Baku Declaration was adopted, was convened on 11-12 November 2009, in Baku, Azerbaijan.
• The 3rd International Silk Road Forum, during which Tehran Declaration was adopted, was hosted by I.R. of Iran on 19-20 October 2010, in Tehran.
• The 4th International Silk Road Forum, during which Batumi Declaration was adopted, was held on 27-28 October 2011 in Batumi, Georgia.
• The 5th International Silk Road Forum, during which Istanbul Declaration was adopted, was held on 29-30 November 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.
• The 6th International Silk Road Forum, during which Qebele Declaration was adopted, was held on 14-15 November 2013 in Qebele, Azerbaijan.
In this framework, “Strategy Paper to Facilitate and Simplify Border Crossings for the Silk Road Countries” was drafted after the first forum and was adopted in the second forum. The paper paved the way for establishing a working group aiming at elaboration of the “Caravanserai Project”, outlines of which were already set out in the Strategy Paper to take concrete decisions for the realization of the mentioned Project.
It is believed that joint work will be conducted among Customs Administrations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia. It is important to reiterate the intention to proceed this work further for other countries intending to take part on later stages. In this context, inclusion of Customs Administration of China in the Project would be highly appreciated by the Customs Administrations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia.