Within the United Nations framework of the Economic and Social Council, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) serves as the focal point for trade facilitation recommendations and electronic business standards, covering both commercial and government business processes that can foster growth in international trade and related services. In this context, the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) was established, as a subsidiary, intergovernmental body of the UNECE Committee on Trade, mandated to develop a programme of work of global relevance to achieve improved worldwide coordination and cooperation in these areas.
17 February 2015: The 21th Plenary session of UN/CEFACT took place in Geneva on 16 and 17 February 2015. The meeting gave an opportunity to UN Member States to review the work carried out by UN/CEFACT in 2014 while also discussing future challenges related to its programme of work. Another major objective of the meeting was to elect a new Chair for UN/CEFACT for the period 2015-2018.
Through presentations and open debates, delegates and UN/CEFCAT Bureau Members discussed how the trade facilitation recommendations and standards developed by UN/CEFACT support the implementation of trade facilitation measures at the national, regional and global levels. This is reflected in the over 500,000 accesses per month to the Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide, where all sections of the WTO TFA are referenced and mapped to deliverables of UN/CEFACT as well as of other organizations.
Participants recognized the great potential for UN/CEFACT outputs to support the implementation of the WTO TFA. In this context, the Plenary approved Recommendation 40 on consultation approaches in trade facilitation matters; this work notably encourages the subdivision of consultation approaches between traders and border agencies into three layers: strategic, operational and technical.
The Plenary elected Mr Lance Thompson (United States of America) as the new Chair of UN/CEFACT for the period 2015-2018. Mr Lance Thompson had already served as a Vice-Chair of UN/CEFACT in charge of the International Trade Procedures section, and has extensive experience in customs and trade facilitation matters.
The next UN/CEFACT Forum will take place in Geneva on 20-24 April 2015.
16 February 2015: The UN/CEFACT International Trade Procedures Programme Development Area is pleased to announce the UN/CEFACT Bureau decision to launch a project aiming at the revision of Recommendation 4 on “National Trade Facilitation Bodies” and its guidelines.
The project proposal (brief summary below) is available at the project's web area.
To participate in the project please contact the UNECE Secretariat at salehin.khan AT unece.org
The UNECE Recommendation 4 on “National Trade Facilitation Bodies” was last updated in 2001; its guidelines were last updated in 2000. Many countries around the world have established these types of trade facilitation bodies and they have been working effectively for many years. A new impulse has been given by the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement which will potentially oblige every WTO member to establish such a Trade Facilitation Body.
In light of this, the current project aims to modernize the recommendation text in order to be in line with the currently produced UNECE trade facilitation recommendations. It will also go through the guidelines to modernize the text and provide concrete guidance on the establishment of such bodies.
Most work and discussions will be done on conference calls. UN/CEFACT hopes to have an updated draft of the recommendation and guideline ready within a few months’ time.
12 January 2015: The UN/CEFACT Schema library version D.14B has been approved and is now available along with the validation report and release notes.