Support to the Development of Red Bridge Crossing Point between Azerbaijan and Georgia
Azerbaijan and Georgia are located on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and the Red Bridge BCP is the main crossing point between them and, to a large extent, between the two regions. The Republic of Azerbaijan lies on a strategically important crossroad within the scope of geographical location in relation to international trade and transport corridor. Efficient development of transit area, integration into global economy, development of transit links is one the main priorities of the economic policy of the Azerbaijan Republic.
Customs control in Azerbaijan is managed by the State Customs Committee, whose main priorities are trade facilitation and security of the supply chain. Since 2008, it has been charged with border veterinary and phyto-sanitary inspections at BCPs. A modernised customs code (developed with support of the EU) was adopted in 2012. By 2013, the Government of Azerbaijan has modernised all five BCPs in line with these principles. At the moment, the SCC is implementing the Action Plan on the Development of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2012-2016. Two of its main priorities focus on:
Follow-up to the building of border customs check-points in line with international standards;
Establishment of customs warehouses and temporary storages and construction of customs terminals
On the Azerbaijani side of the border, one of the two key issues customers face is the poor quality of SPS sampling at the border. While central national SPS laboratories are in place and a national framework is being established, BCPs remain a weak point in the system as the SCC does not have adequate equipment to collect and store samples. Mistakes in sampling often lead to incorrect results, or require repeated sampling which further delay waiting times at borders. Another identified challemge is the lack of a secure customs clearance area outside of the BCP, which often leads to shipments which cannot be cleared immediately holdong up the processing for all shipments. A secure overflow' area would allow for secondary checks and facilitate border flows, in line with OSCE recommendations. While the SCC has plans to establish a dedicated terminal area at Red Bridge in line with their action plan), establishing fencing would kick-start this process and provide a base for the Government to continue with their investments.
The project will support the Governments of Azerbaijan and Georgia in securing their borders and facilitating the legal passing of persons and goods at the Red Bridge Border Crossing Point (BCP). It will do so by providing joint training on BCP sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) controls, as well as developing the necessary infrastructure and equipment on both sides, namely a secured customs area in Azerbaijan and SPS control facilities in Georgia, including sampling equipment.
Contribute to facilitation of the movement of goods across border between Georgia and Azerbaijan, while at the same time maintaining secure borders through the enhancement of bilateral and multilateral co-operation among the target countries, and EU Member States. A key focus of the project will be sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, as these aspects are increasingly important to both countries.
Develop closer cooperation among the gerogian RS and Azerbaijani SCC especially in the area of SPS;
Facilitate trade between Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Improved capacity of both Georgian RS and Azerbaijani SCC in the management of SPS related issues through strengthening systematic SPS control, assessment of training needs, development of ToT modules (to ensure systematic SPS trainings for staff and new recruits), availability of certified trainers in SPS issues; incorporation of SPS related issues to the Curriculums of the national customs academies of both countries to ensure sustainability;
Improved secure traffic flow on the Azerbaijani side of the Red Bridge achieved through improved SPS controls of Azerbaijani SCC and the establishment of fenced-off control area according to the baseline indicators and statistical info provided by SCC;
Improved secure traffic flow on the Georgian side of Red Bridge achieved through improved SPS inspection facilities according to the baseline indicators and statistical info provided by RS.
Training Needs for Azerbaijan SCC and Georgia Revenue Service were assessed.
Number of training programmes for key personnel of Azerbaijan SCC and Georgian RS on General SPS Control Checks at Border Crossing Posts; Phyto-sanitary (Plant Health) Issues, Veterinary (animal health) Issues and Food Safety - records and feedback from training sessions, evaluation and training monitoring reports were delivered.
Study Tour to EUMs to demonstrate best practice on SPS controls at BCPs was organized.
SPS equipment based on international standards were procured and are available.
Over 90 customs specialists have attended the trainings organized within the project activity.
Letter of Agreement was signed between SCC Academy and UNDP project.
Model Plan of the customs area terminal complex were designed.
Systematic national and bilateral trainings/workshops/seminars for Azerbaijan SCC and Georgian RS personnel on general SPS, veterinary controls and food safety at BCPs carried out; Over 250 customs specialists attended the trainings/workshops organized within the project activity;
Study Tour to Lithuania was organised on 21-28 April, 2017 to get EU best practice on food safety, SPS and veterinary controls at borders. Lithuania State Food and Veterinary Service, Lithuania Customs Service and State Plant Service under the Ministry of Agriculture of Lithuania hosted the Azerbaijan SCC delegation headed by SCC Deputy Chief. 5 high level officials participated at ST to get Lithuanian experience in the field of SPS, veterinary and food safety controls at BCPs. The members of delegation were also informed about new technologies, standards, regulations and working practice on traffic safety of bio materials, plants, food and live animals through national and EU borders.
Appx.620 traffic means pass the RB BCP per day by the end of 2017
On 18 September, 2017 UNDP announced a bid on “Construction of Fence and Customs Trade Facilitation Operation Unit at Red Bridge BCP” through e-tendering, deadline of which was 20 October. “Shinkar Holding” LLC won the tender and the case was approved by RACP. The contract was signed between UNDP Project and “Shinkar Holding” LLC in total amount of 567 403 USD for TFOU and Fence Construction. The construction works will be completed in 2018.
Systematic national and bilateral trainings/workshops/seminars for Azerbaijan SCC and Georgian RS personnel on general SPS, veterinary controls and food safety at BCPs have been carried out successfully;
Over 450 customs specialists from RB and other different BCPs attended 10 national trainings and 8 bilateral workshops delivered by EU experts from Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as well as national experts;
Pool of trainers had been identified in SPS field: respective ToTs were organized in Phytosanitary, and Control Procedures at BCPs. 18 certified trainers were coached under ToT Module by Poland expert on SPS border control procedures;
Azerbaijani SCC officials participated in 3 study visits, 8 bilateral trainings and 10 national trainings and workshops;
SPS equipment based on international standards was procured, installed and made available;
3 Study visits for Azerbaijani staff were organised during the project activity to get acquainted with EU's best practices on SPS and veterinary controls at borders. Both Azerbaijani and Georgian customs inspectors visited Poland;
Based on 3 study visits, 20 Azerbaijani SCC officials were familiarised with the customs, SPS, veterinary control, food safety procedures on spot;
Trainings were conducted for SCC inspectors on new SPS equipment;
Within the project UNDP announced a bid on “Construction of Fence and Customs Trade Facilitation Operation Unit at Red Bridge BCP” through e-tendering. The contract was signed between UNDP Azerbaijan and company “Shinkar Holding” LLC on Trade Facilitation Operation Unit and Fence Construction in total amount of 567 403 USD;
Construction works were completed in September 2018. Opening ceremony of the building was on 14 September 2018 with Managements of Azerbaijani SCC, Georgian Revenue Service, EU and UNDP of both countries;
Appx. 650 traffic means pass the Azerbaijan RB BCP per day in 2018.
Common capacity building activities have been carried out during the implementation of the project and overall objective of the project have been fully achieved. All joint activities of the Azerbaijani SCC and Georgian RS – study tours and workshops have been organised efficiently and timely;
Pool of trainers had been identified in SPS field: respective ToTs were organised in Phytosanitary, and Control Procedures at BCPs. 18 certified trainers trained under ToT Module by Poland expert on SPS border control procedures.
During the period of the Project activity, over 400 customs specialists from RB and other different BCPs attended 10 national trainings and 6 bilateral workshops delivered by EU experts from Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as well as national experts;
The target of at least 10 Azerbaijani staff and 10 Georgian staff members participating in Study visits to EU countries has been achieved. The awareness, knowledge and expertise on EU best practice of conducting SPS, veterinary controls were improved accordingly at BCPs of the SCC staff. 3 Study visits for Azerbaijani workers were organised during the project activity to get acquainted with EU best practice on food safety, SPS and veterinary controls at borders. Both Azerbaijani and Georgian customs inspectors visited Poland
Within the framework of the project, SCC specialists got acquainted with EU standards on border control system, sanitary, phytosanitary, veterinary control, food safety, relevant infrastructure at BCPs; new control procedures of products of animal and non- animal origin; electronic system and data exchange, as well as risk management at BCPs.