Trade Facilitation - UNECE

Trade Facilitation - UNECE

Information dated: 2017
UNECE support
  • Improved competitiveness;
  • Better integration into global supply chains;
  • Improved regional and international trade.
Trade facilitation and electronic business

The UNECE develops norms, standards, and recommendations for trade facilitation and electronic business through its Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT). The Centre is a focal point for standards related to trade facilitation and electronic business standards within the UN System. Its principal emphasis is the development of recommendations and standards, and it also develops (in cooperation with the UNECE secretariat) capacity building activities and tools to promote the implementation of its work.

UN/CEFACT supports activities for developed, developing, and transition economies that are dedicated to improving the ability of business, trade, and administrative organizations to exchange products and relevant services. Its principal focus is on facilitating national and international transactions through the simplification and harmonization of processes, procedures, and information flows. This is achieved by:

  • Analysing and understanding the key elements of international processes, procedures, and transactions, and working for the elimination of constraints;
  • Developing methods to facilitate processes, procedures, and transactions, including the relevant use of information technologies;
  • Promoting both the use of these methods and associated best practices through channels such as government and industry and service associations.

Capacity building through diverse events and activities that can be grouped under the following main areas:

  • Activities to raise awareness, support and build capacity in national trade facilitation activities (including in TF organs) through advisory services and workshops;
  • Activities to support the national simplification and harmonization of procedures and data, including the establishment and operation of single window mechanisms for export and import clearance;
  • National and regional workshops to develop national/regional strategies for trade facilitation in the context of current WTO obligations and WTO negotiations on trade facilitation, i.e. the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement;
  • Activities to introduce and to support electronic alternatives to key paper documents in the international supply chain;
  • Other activities to support paperless trade transactions.

Maria Ceccarelli

Chief, Trade Facilitation Section

Tel: +41 22 - 917 2455,

E-mail: tom.butterly [at] unece.org ()

Successful projects

Regional initiatives on data harmonization (including on introducing single window mechanisms for trade) in South-Eastern Europe and in the CIS region, in SPECA (launch of a SW in Azerbaijan and Ukraine);

  • The establishment of mirror UN/CEFACT committees in the CIS countries;
  • Capacity building workshops on data harmonization in the SPECA region (in collaboration with UNESCAP);
  • Provision of legal and practical advice (including on establishing an information exchange system) to the countries of a new economic grouping – the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation;
  • The transposition of basic UN/CEFACT standards as Russian national standards and as CIS regional standards;
  • Publication of an updated English-Russian glossary of trade facilitation terms created as a tool for promoting the concept and practice of trade facilitation in Russian-speaking countries;
  • Technical assistance for the trade facilitation reform and institution building in Greece;
  • Publication of UNECE Recommendations 33, 34, 35 on Single Window and the Guide to drafting a National Trade Facilitation Roadmap into Albanian;
  • Development of the Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide (TFIG) in English, French, Russian, Arabic and Spanish.
  • Training workshops based on the UN TFIG for the SPECA countries.
  • Development of e-Business standards as eSPS, FLUX, T&T, eLAB, RASFF and eCITES among others.
  • Launch of a joint trade facilitation initiative by the five UN regional commissions as well as a joint project on information requirements for supply chains.

Because this UNECE programme and UN/CEFACT have a global remit, capacity building activities are organized across the world. However, because of the UNECE’s limited budget for capacity building, it mainly organizes activities in its region; but it also supports other organizations, including other UN regional commissions, which organize capacity building in other regions.

In this area, close cooperation takes place with other international organizations, both within and outside the UN System. One of the most important forums for this cooperation is the Global Facilitation Partnership for Transportation and Trade (GFP) (http://www.gfptt.org).

In addition, this and other cooperation mechanisms are supplemented by joint work on specific projects. Additionally, UN/CEFACT relies on its close relationship with the representatives of international business associations, such as GS1 (the organization that allocates barcodes for products internationally), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), the Global Express Carriers Association, and others.

Finally, the UNECE cooperates extensively with regional groupings and trade organizations to support the implementation of the results of its work, including APEC, ASEAN, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) , the European Union (EU), EurAsEC, the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, and other regional commissions.