Digitalization of trade procedures, especially through the application of emerging technologies, could contribute to trade cost reduction and efficient and inclusive trade-related processes. Despite the significant benefits it could bring, paperless trade systems and applications face challenges, including interoperability and data security. Due to its transparent, decentralized and immutable nature, the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) including blockchain, has the potential to address some of these challenges.
In this context, the ESCAP Secretariat invites interested researchers and practitioners to make proposals to carry out studies on the implementation of cross-border electronic exchange of trade-related data via DLT, including blockchain. The studies will also be used for developing a template for feasibility studies to identify feasible trade data and data exchange mechanisms for initiating the cross-border electronic exchange of data with major trading partners.
1 July – 30 September 2022 (The draft paper should be ready by 15 August)
A research paper on the topic with the focus on:
- Feasibility of DLT/blockchain (rather than technologies themselves, but on its practical application)
- Application of DLT/blockchain for digitalization of trade procedures (not in track-and-trace for trade)
- Business to government (B2G) or government to government transactions (G2G) (not business to business (B2B))
- If possible, cases and applications for least developed countries (LDCs)
The research paper would be in the form of either:
- Case studies or use cases of implementation of cross-border electronic exchange of trade-related data via DLT, including blockchain from developing countries in Asia and the Pacific (LDCs are desirable):
- Description of implementation of technologies and procedures
- Critical barriers to implementation
- Comparison between traditional technologies versus DLT/blockchain (while defining critical areas for the comparison)
- Overview of DLT/blockchain application, especially in LDCs – based on literature review
- Summary of DLT/blockchain application for digitalization of trade procedures
- Key barriers for application (especially those unique and common for LDCs)
- Comparison between traditional technologies versus DLT (while defining critical areas for the comparison)
The paper would be 8,000-12,000 words, excluding tables, figures, references and appendices. Format and style for the research paper will be provided for the selected proposals. It should be free of grammatical and stylistic errors. Based on previous experience, it is expected the report will undergo several rounds of reviews, and the consultant should be ready to address feedback in a timely manner.
Consultancy fees of up to 10,000 USD will be issued to carry out the research and deliver the paper – depending on the proposed scope, methodology, and researcher’s experience.
Other benefits for selected proposals:
- Presentation of research findings in ESCAP events on trade facilitation and cross-border paperless trade, where relevant, with one potential event being the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2022 in Singapore (29-30 August 2022)
- Publication of the research paper in UN publications or through ESCAP regional networks, including ARTNeT and UNNExT, where relevant and suitable
Please apply as soon as possible or no later than 15 June 2022.
Individual(s) with relevant expertise are invited to submit research proposals to Mr. Yann Duval, Chief of Trade Policy and Facilitation, ESCAP [[email protected]] with a copy to Ms. Soo Hyun Kim [[email protected]].
The submission should include:
- An email expressing interest
- In 500 words or less, a research proposal, including 1) a summary of the research, including scope, methodology, and detailed tentative outline of the paper, 2) research schedule/timeline, and 3) main expected outcome/finding/recommendation, and;
- Curriculum Vitae (CV) and any other evidence of relevant work.
The criteria used to evaluate the proposals will be based on the feasibility of the proposed research plan (75%), with heavy bearing on expected outcome/findings: and previous work experience of the applicant(s) in the areas related to the research topic (25%).
- Only selected candidate(s) would be contacted.
- Considering the specialized nature of topics, successful proposals are expected to come from researchers who already have work/research experience.
- Candidates are encouraged to make a proposal jointly with other researchers and practitioners to maximize synergy and complementarity of expertise.
For further information:
Please email Ms. Soo Hyun Kim at [email protected] should you have any questions.
 Among numerous studies on impact of cross-border paperless trade on trade cost, see recent example: https://www.unescap.org/kp/2021/APTF
 The initial target countries for the feasibility study are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Timor-Leste