Trade facilitation involves the simplification, standardization and harmonization of procedures and associated information flows required to move goods from seller to buyer and to make payment. As this encompasses both commercial and regulatory processes, it should be approached on a partnership basis between governments and trade in order to ensure that practical and implementable solutions are developed. UN/CEFACT Recommendation Number 4 addresses this issue by suggesting that Governments establish and support national trade facilitation bodies or committees with balanced private and public sector participation in order to:
- Identify issues affecting the cost and efficiency of their country's international trade;
- Develop measures to reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of international trade;
- Assist in the implementation of those measures;
- Provide a national focal point for the collection and dissemination of information on best practices in international trade facilitation; and
- Participate in international efforts to improve trade facilitation and efficiency.
There are over sixty such trade facilitation bodies and committees established worldwide, details of which are listed below:
Recommendation No.4: National Trade Facilitation Bodies (ECE/TRADE/242), Second Edition, UN/CEFACT, Geneva, October 2001.
Creating an efficient environment for trade and transport: Guidelines to Recommendation No.4 on National Trade Facilitation Bodies, (ECE/TRADE/256), UN/CEFACT, Geneva, March 2000.
Multi-Agency Working Groups on Trade Facilitation (TFWG)
In addition to national trade and transport facilitation bodies which have been set up in many countries, there exist also other forms of a dialogue on trade facilitation issues. Thus, in the framework of the WTO negotiations on trade facilitation, the issue of agency coordination and consultation has come back to the forefront of country's preoccupations. Multi-agency or sectoral working groups, task forces or committees can provide the required expertise and technical backstopping during the negotiations and provide a platform for dialogue with private sector. UNCTAD and UNECE are developing a repository on national experiences with setting up and sustaining an institutional coordinating mechanism. The objective is to share experiences of such trade facilitation working groups (TFWG) and identify common challenges and solutions to these challenges. The received information can be consulted at the relevant pages of the UNECE and of the UNCTAD websites, respectively.
UNECE TFWG Repository UNCTAD TFWG Repository