WTO TFA+ Implementation State of Play in Asia and the Pacific: Moving Towards Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation (ESCAP Trade Insights: Issue No. 28)

WTO TFA+ Implementation State of Play in Asia and the Pacific: Moving Towards Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation (ESCAP Trade Insights: Issue No. 28)

Date: 
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Type: 
Public information and advocacy materials
Abstract

  • The 2019 United Nations Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation assesses implementation of 53 trade facilitation measures, including but not limited to those included in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Of the 128 countries covered globally, 46 are from Asia and the Pacific (see untfsurvey.org).
  • Implementation of the WTO TFA+ set of trade facilitation (TF) measures considered in the Survey reached 59.7% in the region in 2019, a more than 10% increase compared to the 2017 level. Countries have generally accelerated their implementation efforts over the last two years, as the increase in the implementation rate between 2015 and 2017 was only 5.6%.
  • Implementation levels remain very different across countries, with the Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand achieving scores in excess of 90%, while implementation in some small Pacific Island Developing Economies (PIDEs) barely reaches 30%. At the subregional level, trade facilitation implementation in South and South-West Asia (SSWA) (55.4%) remains below the regional average, while North and Central Asia (NCA) (65.6%) has improved most between 2017 and 2019.
  • In relation to the WTO TFA, which provides the baseline set of TF measures to be implemented, more than half of the 46 Asia-Pacific economies have at least partially implemented nearly all of the TFA-related measures included in the survey.
  • In terms of “digital trade facilitation” measures, good progress has been made as many countries start putting in place e-payment systems for duties and fees; and speed up development of single window facilities. However, implementation of cross-border paperless trade remains low, in particular given difficulties involved in achieving consensus on legal issues associated with exchanging electronic data and documents across borders.
  • Measures under the “sustainable trade facilitation” category are least implemented, particularly those targeted at women and SMEs. These measures are not specified in multilateral and/or regional agreements but need to be further emphasized to ensure trade facilitation benefits a wider range of stakeholders.
  • The limited data available on implementation of “trade finance” facilitation measures suggests a serious lack of awareness about the importance of these measures and how they could be integrated in trade facilitation strategies.
  • By implementing a WTO TFA+ package of measures, including cross-border paperless trade, Asia-Pacific economies could reduce their trade costs by about 16% on average, or about twice the savings that could be achieved if they limit their efforts to only the binding WTO TFA provisions. Accession to the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific would enable countries in the region to build the capacity and cooperation needed to effectively implement such a package.

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TRADE INSIGHT TF in Asia-Pacific 2019 Moving towards Digital and Sustainable Trade-cl+Download