The COVID-19 pandemic not only had huge disruptions on international trade and supply chains, it also underscored the importance of digital technology and of finding new ways of doing business. Almost all international trade today is facilitated and enabled by digital and communication technologies.
To this end, the Republic of Korea, Tajikistan and Tuvalu recently acceded to the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, more than doubling its membership to 11 countries between 2021 and 2022.
This is the first UN agreement dedicated entirely to accelerating the implementation of digital trade facilitation measures for trade and development, and demonstrates the Asia-Pacific region’s strong political will and leadership in digitalizing trade procedures. Membership in the treaty is diverse and inclusive, covering least developed countries such as Timor-Leste, landlocked developing countries such as Mongolia, and leading economies such as China.
Full implementation of the Framework Agreement is expected to reduce trade costs by 13 per cent on average across the region, ranging from 7 per cent in developed economies to 26 per cent in Pacific islands. Additional benefits associated with the cross-border digitalization of trade procedures include reductions in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to planting 400 million trees, and increased transparency for addressing illicit financial flows.
This week, the Standing Committee of the Framework Agreement also met for the first time to initiate implementation of the treaty since its entry into force in February 2021. The meeting discussed concrete actions and collaboration among partner countries as well as engaged development partners and the private sector which will be instrumental for the implementation of the treaty.