Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome you to the launch of the fifth edition of the UN Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation, a collective endeavor by the five UN regional commissions, ECA, ECLAC, ECE, ESCAP and ESCWA, as well as UNCTAD, with the support of partner organizations.
The Survey brings invaluable insights into the state of trade facilitation implementation and its contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has been a pleasure for ESCAP to lead and coordinate the Survey since its inception and witness its widespread adoption.
Persisting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical turbulence and high inflation continue to challenge international trade. Global trade growth faltered in 2022, with slow growth expected to persist throughout 2023. Trade facilitation thus remains a top priority.
This year's Survey reflects a modest improvement in trade facilitation implementation, despite global disruptions.
However, implementation of cross-border paperless trade measures remains low. More concerted international collaboration is necessary.
First, it is essential to adopt international standards and harmonize legal frameworks, as well as promote public-private sector cooperation.
The UN has been very active in this area. For example, the ECE-backed UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business is developing trade facilitation recommendations and standards to establish interoperable international trade environments. UNCTAD is actively promoting public-private sector engagement through its support to National Trade Facilitation Committees.
Second, countries must avail themselves of intergovernmental coordination mechanisms to develop and test legal and technical solutions for cross-border paperless trade.
I am glad to report that ESCAP has started to address this concern through the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, a UN treaty offering a dedicated intergovernmental platform for trade digitalization.
With a 100per cent increase in the number of acceding countries last year and several more countries planning to join soon, I look forward to the emergence of effective and inclusive trade digitalization solutions.
The Survey also highlights the insufficient adoption of sustainable trade facilitation measures and inadequate support for vulnerable groups, including the agricultural sector, Small to Medium-sized Enterprises, and women traders.
I call upon countries to actively implement sustainable trade measures highlighted in the Survey to foster inclusive and sustainable trade and development.
I extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to our fellow regional commissions, UNCTAD, ICC and other partners for their excellent collaboration. And I look forward to the translation of the Survey's outcomes into impactful policies and actions.