Fostering connectivity across borders

Plenary Session


23 May


14:30 to 16:00


Hall 1, Level +1

The multitude of free trade agreements and improved connectivity in information technology have increased global and regional economic integration over the past few decades. As a result, production flows have become increasingly dependent on global and regional value chains, yet most infrastructure investments remain domestic. There is a growing need for cross-border infrastructure, which could be “soft”, such as improved coordination between customs, or “hard”, which includes improved physical connectivity of transport links, such as cross-border roads and railways. This session will focus on the positive impact of improved cross-border connectivity on trade, the challenges of cross-border infrastructure projects and lessons learned.

Key facts:

  • Improvements in border crossing time will increase the overall traffic flow passing through Central Asia by 11% for road and 2% for rail by 2050 (ITF, in press)
  • Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade would increase by 7.5%, if all APEC countries reach regional average of customs efficiency (Helble et al., 2009)
  • Full implementation of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) would reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3% and boost global trade by up to $1 trillion per year (WTO, 2015)
  • A direct transportation link with trading partners more than doubles trade and tourism flows (Helble, 2014)

Lead questions:

  • How can the link between trade facilitation and trade flows be fostered through improved connectivity?
  • Better border management will require better coordination, collaboration and connectivity. What are some of the existing border control strategies that have successfully incorporated such a collaborative approach?
  • What are some of the greatest trade facilitation challenges?
  • In what ways will new technologies facilitate border crossing and foster connectivity?
  • Logistics centers at border crossing points provide crucial services to accommodate growing freight flows. How can such infrastructure help foster connectivity across borders?

Background reading:

  • ITF (in press) Enhancing Connectivity and Freight in Central Asia. OECD, International Transport Forum.
  • Helble, M., B. Shepherd, and J. S. Wilson. (2007) Transparency and Trade Facilitation in the Asia-Pacific: Estimating the Gains from Reform, APEC and The World Bank Development Research Group.
  • WTO (2015) World Trade Report 2015. Speeding up trade: benefits and challenges of implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • Helble, Matthias. (2014) The Pacific's Connectivity and Its Trade Implications, ADBI Working Paper 499.



Hichem Ben Ahmed

Minister of Transport, Republic of Tunisia

Maximilian Eichhorn

Vice President Strategy

Siemens Mobility

François Davenne

Deputy Director General

International Union of Railways (UIC)

Melinda Crane

Moderator, Chief Political Correspondent, Deutsche Welle-TV

Gene Seroka

Executive Director

Port of Los Angeles

Ana B. Hinojosa

Director, Compliance and Facilitation

World Customs Organization (WCO)

Karla Peijs

European Coordinator for the TEN-T Rhine-Danube Corridor

European Commission


Plenary: Fostering connectivity across borders