Bangladesh, Cambodia and China sign new UN treaty to strengthen digital trade in Asia-Pacific

Bangladesh, Cambodia and China today signed the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, a new United Nations treaty aimed at strengthening digital trade in the region.

“ESCAP Member States have played a leading role in the development of the trade agreement,” said Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

“This agreement has the potential to harness the development dividends at the nexus of technology and trade, two key means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Dr. Akhtar added.

Several other countries at the signing ceremony hosted by ESCAP in Bangkok, also expressed their commitment to sign the treaty during the September 2017 session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Open to all 53 ESCAP Member States, this unprecedented regional treaty illustrates Asia and the Pacific’s leadership in adopting innovative trade facilitation measures. It will provide the foundation for participating countries in the region to cooperate and accelerate progress in achieving paperless trade across borders, cut trade time and costs, and ultimately boost economic competiveness.

According to a recent ESCAP study, regional export gains for the Asia-Pacific region are estimated to reach US$250 billion annually with the full implementation of cross-border paperless trade. Even partial implementation of cross-border paperless trade could lead to an export increase of US$36 billion annually, and decrease the time required to export by as much as 44 per cent and reduce costs by up to 31 per cent.

The regional signing ceremony was held as part of the ‘High-Level Dialogue on Enhancing Regional Trade through Effective Participation in the Digital Economy’ taking place this week in Bangkok. The treaty is open for signature at the United Nations headquarters in New York until 30 September 2017 and will enter into force 90 days after five countries have ratified the agreement.