For the landlocked developing countries, the cost of moving goods across borders is a greater barrier to trade than tariffs. In addition to domestic procedural inefficiencies and bottlenecks, geographical position obliging landlocked countries to use road transportation as the main link with the nearest ports make them dependent on the regulatory conditions of neighbouring transit countries for their external trade. Pre-arrival documents, customs clearance and inspections create predominant part of the delays. These non-physical bottlenecks combined with high transport costs pose a real challenge to trade competitiveness and economic development of landlocked countries. That is why the majority of landlocked countries in Asia belong to the poorest in the region.
Objectives of the Project
Trade facilitation is one of the major components of an integrated trade development strategy. Trade facilitation measures seek to establish a transparent, consistent and predictable environment for trade transactions, which are based on simple, standardized and harmonized trade and customs procedures, practices and documents. In an era of vertically integrated global supply chains, rapid and efficient movement of goods and respective services is an important aspect of trade facilitation.
Streamlined and harmonized trade information flows are a corner stone for exchanging data through electronic one-stop systems, better known as single window, and paperless trade systems. Such systems provide a significant tool to reduce the cost and complexity of international trade, increase export competitiveness and reduce corruption at the border. They are especially important for SMEs, for whom the relative cost of trade procedures is high, as well as for exporters, where procedural costs reduce the competitiveness of goods from low-income countries.
The main objective of the project is to enhance institutional and human capacities of least-developed countries, countries with economies in transition and transit countries to develop and implement a single window facility for electronic trade data exchange in order to increase export competitiveness and reduce the time and the costs of conducting international trade.
The main outputs of the project include:
The project beneficiaries will be both government officials and the business sector, especially SMEs in the project countries from Central, South and Southeast Asia. The project will be implemented by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). UNCTAD will also collaborate in the delivery of the project. The project will also tap into the experience of Asian Development Bank (ADB), Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), SPECA and CAREC.
Trade Facilitation in UNESCAP and UNECE
- A regional network of experts for paperless trade (primarily from Customs, Trade and other relevant ministries, business and e-services providers)
- Country-specific implementation studies to spearhead the development of a single window facility for electronic trade document exchange
- Training material and e-learning tools
Trade facilitation is an integral part of both subprogrammes under UNESCAP and UNECE. UNESCAP has been assisting its members with the implementation of international instruments for the simplification and harmonization of trade procedures and documentation. UNECE, through the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), has been developing international standards and best practices for trade facilitation and e-business. Such standards, best practices and tools, which include the United Nations Layout Key for Trade Documents, United Nations electronic Trade Documents (UNeDocs) and UN/CEFACT Recommendation 33 on Establishing a Single Window. Individually or jointly, both regional commissions have a proven experience with the implementation of the trade facilitation projects with the focus on electronic exchange of trade documents and data, in compliance with established UN standards, best practices and tools.