MECC stakeholders agree that improved movement is critical for every country in the region, and that the only way to address these issues is through a regional effort. The closure of Syria as a regional transit hub currently undermines traditional trade routes from Europe and Turkey, to Jordan, the GCC states and Iraq. The “Levant Trade Corridor” by sea, road, and railway connection is an important alternative route for container traffic between Turkey, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and the Gulf countries. In a broader framework, the route will also serve trade between Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, and the aforementioned countries.
In order to promote expansion of this trade corridor, the task force agreed that it would engage the main stakeholders, including:
The private sector: MECC will engage a range of private sector actors, from infrastructure developers, security companies, and transportation providers who share the same goals for the development of such a Levant Trade Corridor.
Regional government buy-in: Each of the governments needs to recognize how this emerging trade corridor will enable them to improve access and movement throughout the region, and enhance customs capacities and tax revenues in a fashion that is consistent with security concerns.
The international community: The international business and political community has a major interest in developing trade and the related economic stability in the region. The creation and/or enlargement of the “Levant Trade Corridor” is further viewed as an important tool to support the emerging Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
The MECC has launched a process to study the movement of goods across the region. This report will identify targeted solutions to improve the movement of goods by mapping current corridors, identifying current operations, obstacles and bottlenecks, and strategies to help improve the flow of commerce (whether by overcoming current impediments or creating new avenues for increased trade). The study will also look at efficiency at border crossings; inter-modal ports; conflict zones; infrastructure level and capabilities; human resource capabilities; and administrative, regulatory and legal barriers. Publication is anticipated for late 2014. You can read the Trade Facilitation and Logistics Modernization Report Outline.
The Task Force also plans to create workshops for engagement with government officials (from customs authorities to department of transportation leaders and other decision-makers) to introduce MECC-led initiatives and to “parallel-check” that they align with processes and initiatives across the region.