Workshop on Cross-border Paperless Trade Facilitation and Single Window Systems in Southern and Central Asia

Date: 
14 Feb 2017 to 16 Feb 2017
Location: 
Bangkok, Thailand

The cost of doing trade in Southern and Central Asian subregions is among the highest in the world. Though the subregional countries have been taking unilateral trade facilitation measures, a holistic and structured trade facilitation programme linking the subregional countries together is yet to take shape. Trade facilitation agendas should be built around modern and effective international trade supply chain management, streamlined and transparent trade processes/procedures, and improved services and information for private sector traders and investors. The adoption of electronic platforms for trade processes -- referred to as ‘cross-border paperless trade’ -- at the regional level can bring about improvements in many areas of trade facilitation at one go.

Apart from procedural efficiency, paperless trade also promises better regulatory compliance. It could thus be a game changer for the subregions’ trade, which is also marred by unaccounted informal and outlawed exchanges. Fast paced advancements in information and communication technology are allowing today’s best performing trade systems to make trade procedures easier and faster as well as safe and secure for both administrators and users, while reducing costs significantly. For Southern and Central Asia, paperless trade is not only an option to reap these benefits but also a necessity to be able to integrate with advanced trading systems of other regions.

Member States of UNESCAP have successfully developed the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, availing several useful resources to Southern and Central Asian countries to make progress towards a regional cross-border paperless trade system. The proposed Workshop will explore ways and means of implementing cross-border paperless trade and single window systems in the subregion, in light of the new developments that are taking place on this subject.

Objectives and participation
The objectives of the workshop are to:
• Take stock of progress made in national level paperless trade and single window systems in Southern and Central Asian countries

• Discuss legal and technical challenges in facilitating cross-border paperless trade and share best practices from the Asian and Pacific region

• Explore opportunities offered by the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific and its cross-cutting synergies with other national and multilateral initiatives

• Facilitate an action plan for subregional collaboration in the field of digital trade connectivity.

Participation
The proposed workshop will be attended by senior government officials engaged in trade facilitation reforms from Southern and Central Asian countries, resource persons and experts on paperless trade from various UNESCAP member States.