- The Meeting of Experts (GE.2) held its fifty-third session in Geneva on 20 March 1996 under
the chairmanship of Mr. E. Goffin (Belgium).
- The session was attended by representatives from: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada,
Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland,
Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Republic of San Marino, Romania,
Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.
- The session was attended by representatives of the European Union (EU).
- Representatives from: Australia, Brazil, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Korea, Nigeria
and Senegal participated under Article 11 of the Commission's terms of reference.
- The session was also attended by representatives of the secretariat of the United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Commission on International
Trade Law (UNCITRAL), as well as by representatives of the following intergovernmental
the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the Central Office for International Railway Transport
(OCTI) and the World Customs Organization (WCO). The following non-governmental organizations were
represented: Comité International des Transports Ferroviaires (CIT), International Air Transport
Association (IATA), European Electronic Messaging Association (EEMA), International Air Transport
Association (IATA), International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Organization for
Standardization (ISO), Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transfers (S.W.I.F.T),
International Union of Railways (UIC). Also present at the invitation of the secretariat was a
representative of the United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation and the International
Federation of Inspection Agencies (IFIA).
Item 1 - Adoption of the agenda
- Provisional agenda (TRADE/WP.4/GE.2/102/Rev.1) was adopted with the understanding that item 7
"Legal/commercial aspects of trade facilitation" had been deferred to a joint session of
GE.1/GE.2. The Report of the joint session of GE.1/GE.2 on 21 March 1996 is appended to the
Reports of the fifty-third sessions of GE.1 and GE.2.
Item 2 - Election of Officers
- Mr. E. Goffin (Belgium) was re-elected as Chairman and Mrs. C. Wallen-Rahlen (Sweden) and
Mr. A. Filippov (Russian Federation) as Vice-Chairmen of the Meeting of Experts for 1996 and the
March 1997 session of GE.2.
Item 3 - Programme of work and priorities
- Report of Twenty-Eighth WP.4 Session (TRADE/WP.4/165)
- Working Party on Facilitation of International Trade Procedures:
- Role and Future Policy (TRADE/WP.4/R.1000 and TRADE/WP.4/R.1000/Corr.1)
- Interim Report from the Ad Hoc Groups A and B on Centre Implementation and Centre
Work Programme (TRADE/WP.4/CRP.41)
- Interim Report from the Ad Hoc Group C on Empowerment (TRADE/WP.4/CRP.43)
- Programme of Work (TRADE/WP.4/CRP.75)
- In his introduction, the Chairman indicated that documents TRADE/WP.4/CRP.41 (Interim
Report from the Ad Hoc Groups A and B on Centre Implementation and Centre Work Programme),
TRADE/WP.4/CRP.75 (Programme of Work), and TRADE/WP.4/CRP.43 (Interim Report from the Ad Hoc
Group C on Empowerment), had already been presented to the informal meeting of the Heads of
delegation held on Monday 18 March 1996.
- He also mentioned other documents under this agenda item, including document
TRADE/WP.4/R.800 (Draft Programme of Work) considered at the thirty-fifth session of the Working
Party in March 1992. He underlined that all this documentation was a valuable contribution
towards a coordinated transfer of the WP.4 activities to the proposed Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (CEFACT). Within two main
strategic areas - Facilitation of Procedures and Practices and Electronic Data Interchange,
including UN/EDIFACT - the Centre will need to take into consideration the needs of countries in
transition as well as the legal issues affecting the implementation of procedures, practices and
- The Chairman explained that further discussion on this matter would take place during the
informal meeting of Heads of delegation on 21 March 1996 and the session of the Working Party on
Friday 22 March 1996. He invited delegations to comment on the work programme issues in this
- The Vice-Chair, Mrs. C. Wallen-Rahlen (Sweden), noted the privilege of being able to work
globally within the UN system with trade facilitation matters, but said that doing so also means
a responsibility to produce speedy and forward looking results which can guide governments and
the business community. She would further see a limited work programme, revised yearly, with
priorities and limited time frames. She hoped that this would attract country experts to
participate in the work.
- The representative of the secretariat assured delegations that they would have full support
from the secretariat in execution of the approved programme of work.
- In his intervention, the representative of the delegation of Switzerland said that he would
prepare an electronic (computerized) version of the UN Layout Key and present to the next session.
- The representative of the delegation of the United Kingdom expressed his general support for
document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.75 having noted the importance of programme element 220.127.116.11 "Audit based
control". As to programme element 1.3.4 "Revision of Recommendation No.18 (on measures to
facilitate international trade)", he proposed to consider this revision in conjunction with the
results of International Trade Transaction (ITT) Modelling, taking into account the fact that
both the Recommendation and the ITT Modelling cover the ITT as a whole.
- The representative of the delegation of France noted programme elements 1.1.4 "Study on
pre-shipment inspection procedure", 18.104.22.168 "Transport of dangerous goods" and 1.5.1 "Negotiable
documents" and proposed to set up ad hoc working groups on these subjects. He added that these
activities might be considered as priorities in the work of the new Centre.
- Many other delegations participated in the discussion of the future programme of work of the
Centre. Support was expressed to have document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.75 as a basis for the future
programme of work. Additional remarks were given on the publication and promotion of the results
of work. Need for more detailed implementation guides was noted.
- The Chairman summarized the discussion on this item having noted the importance of
establishing priorities in the work programme. He indicated that, for the preparation of the final
draft programme of work, delegations should send their comments on document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.75 to
the secretariat by the third of May 1996.
Item 4 - Analysis of the International Trade Transaction (ITT)
- Report of the Steering Group on International Trade Transaction (ITT) Modelling
- Concordance Between Commercial Documents and UN/EDIFACT Messages (TRADE/WP.4/CRP.84)
- Documents Aligned in Accordance with WP.4 Recommendations (TRADE/WP.4/CRP.85)
- Purchase Order Layout (TRADE/WP.4/CRP.86)
- Single Administrative Document for Customs Declaration (TRADE/WP.4/CRP.87)
- In his introduction of document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.74, the Convenor of the ITT Steering group
reported on the main actions undertaken by the group following the decisions of the September 1995
session of GE.2. At its meeting held on 30 November-1 December 1995, the Steering group had
reviewed information on the development of electronic ITT models coming out of various meetings
held since the 52nd session of GE.2 in September 1995. This included a recommendation to ESCAP
member-countries to initiate work on an international trade transaction modelling
exercise in collaboration with UN/ECE and other relevant organizations. He informed the Meeting
of the successful ITT Modelling demonstration made on 6 December 1995 for the regular session of
the ECE/Committee on the Development of Trade. The use of the World Wide Web Network for further
promotion of this method was emphasized. The Convenor noted that to enable the work on the ITT
Modelling to continue, the Steering group was seeking comments from delegations on the model,
particularly with regard to their national situations, so that these could be analyzed
appropriately and added to the model.
- He also drew the attention of delegations to the Annex of document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.74,
containing the description of functions of the parties involved in international trade based on
the United Kingdom experience. He invited delegations to comment on that subject. The intention
of the Steering group is to introduce these descriptions into the ITT Model by the next session
- In continuation of his Report, the Convenor of the Steering group introduced other results
produced in conjunction with the ITT Modelling: document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.84 (Concordance between
Commercial Documents and UN/EDIFACT Messages), TRADE/WP.4/CRP.85 (Documents Aligned in Accordance
with WP.4 Recommendations), TRADE/WP.4/CRP.86 (Purchase Order Layout), TRADE/WP.4/CRP.87
(Single Administrative Document for Customs Declaration). He underlined the need for further
development of aligned international trade document systems, especially for countries in
transition, as a preliminary step, in many cases, for the introduction of EDI.
- Several delegations participated in the discussion and favourably commented on the results
achieved by the ITT Steering group and the importance of this GE.2 activity.
- The representative of the World Customs Organisation reported on the experience of his
organisation in this area and expressed hope for closer cooperation.
- The Chairman underlined the need for cooperation between UN Regional Commissions on the
subject. In view of a presentation on ITT Modelling to be given at the fourth Meeting of the ESCAP
Network on Trade Facilitation in New Delhi, India, in October/November 1996, he asked the
secretariat to submit a WP.4 Report on this activity.
- The Meeting recommended that the Steering group continue its activities on the issues
indicated in the report in close cooperation with GE.1 experts and report again in September 1996. It was proposed to invite more experts to be
members of the Steering group. The next meeting of the Steering group will take place on
19-20 June 1996. The Meeting thanked the ECE Regional Adviser on Trade Facilitation, Mr. W. Keenan,
and the Standards Liaison Rapporteur, Mr. K.-D. Naujok (Canada) for the excellent demonstration
they did on the use of the World Wide Web and modern modelling techniques and hoped that they
would continue to cooperate in the elaboration of the ITT Models.
Item 5 - Implementation of ECE/FAL Recommendations
- In accordance with the decision taken by WP.4 at its September 1995 Session, the secretariat
informed the Meeting that it had sent for publication all the Recommendations approved by the
Working Party (document ECE/TRADE/200). The content of this publication was distributed to
delegations as document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.71.
(a) Recommendation No. 4 "National Trade Facilitation Organizations"
Document: - List of National Trade Facilitation Committees and Focal Points
- The Meeting noted document TRADE/WP.4/R.898/Rev.6, the list of existing committees and focal
points, prepared by the secretariat. The attention was drown to new information regarding World
Wide Web pages included in the document.
- The Chairman asked the secretariat to continue maintenance of the list and to submit an
updated version to the next session of GE.2.
(b) Recommendation No.10 "Ships' codes"
Document: - Revision of WP.4/Recommendation No.10 "Code for ship's names" (TRADE/WP.4/R.1201)
- The representative of ICS introduced document TRADE/WP.4/R.1201, containing proposals for the
revision of this Recommendation. He explained that this paper set out the results of ICS research
into the shipping industry's needs and preferences in respect of standard codes for identifying
ships. He declared that ICS would like to endorse the proposal from the delegation of Finland
(document TRADE/WP.4/R.1175) that WP.4 consider recommending the IMO number to replace the
Radio Call Sign as a code for identifying ships, in Recommendation No.10.
- At the proposal of its Chairman, the meeting agreed to ask ICS to prepare a draft revision
of this Recommendation to be submitted to the secretariat in mid-June 1996 and to be officially
published for a formal approval at the next session of GE.2 in September 1996.
(b) Recommendation No.12 "Measures to facilitate transport documents procedures"
Document: - Implementation of ECE/FAL Recommendation No.12 (TRADE/WP.4/R.1218)
- The representative of ICS introduced document TRADE/WP.4/R.1218, containing the results of ICS
research to the extent which non-negotiable documents had replaced negotiable Bills of Lading in
various liner trades. The results showed that negotiable Bills of Lading had virtually passed out
of use in certain trades, but continued to predominate in many other trades. He indicated the
specific factors contributing to the continued use of negotiable Bills of Lading and mentioned
that they might be further investigated to increase the use of non-negotiable documents. The
cooperation with banks was welcomed.
- Several delegations favourably commented this ICS study. The representative of the Delegation
of France noted the need to continue efforts to implement this Recommendation and to seek
assistance from UNCITRAL in this respect. Taking into account the developments of the BOLERO
project, this activity might be interesting for a joint activity together with GE.1 experts.
The delegation of France was ready to submit a document on the subject to the next session of
(c) Recommendation No. 17 "PAYTERMS - Abbreviations for Terms of Payment"
Document: - Codification of Terms of Payment and Updating Recommendation No.17
- A representative of the secretariat introduced document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.73 on the codification
of Terms of Payment and the updating of Recommendation No.17. The secretariat suggested that
efforts should be continued in the direction of revising the list of terms of payment approved in
Recommendation No.17 and to carry out a study on existing practical experience and the possibility
of using the recommended numeric codification (document TRADE/WP.4/R.454) in the framework of
the UNSM "Standard Invoice Message".
- The Meeting agreed to set up an ad hoc group on the subject with participation of delegations
of Romania, Austria, France, Belgium and the secretariat in this activity. The participation of
appropriate international organisations was welcomed.
(d) Recommendation No.18 "Facilitation measures related to international trade procedures"
Documents: - International Federation of Inspection Agencies (IFIA) Report on Preshipment
Inspection Programmes (TRADE/WP.4/CRP.47)
- Preshipment inspection (TRADE/WP.4/CRP.68)
- The representative of IFIA introduced document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.47 (Report of IFIA on the
PSI Procedure), prepared in accordance with the decision of the September 1995 session of GE.2.
He underlined the importance of Article 4 of the WTO PSI Agreement in respect of an Independent
Entity established at the WTO Secretariat to resolve disputes from either exporters or PSI
companies concerning compliance with the provisions of the PSI Agreement. In the light of the
WTO PSI Agreement, he suggested that Recommendation No.18 be revised.
- Several delegations participated in the discussion. The representative of WCO explained the
position of his organisation with regard to PSI procedures. The need to strengthen and modernize
the Customs service in some countries was noted. The representative of the delegation of the
United Kingdom proposed to consider the study on PSI procedure separately from the problem of
revising Recommendation No.18.
- The delegation of Sweden stressed that the PSI matter can be seen divided in at least three
parts, one relating to user countries, and two others relating to the Customs service and the
relations between the exporters and the inspection companies. The Meeting should take into
account the WTO Agreement on PSI before starting a revision of the measure on PSI procedure. The
delegations were encouraged to forward comments to the secretariat on the revision of this
procedure. In this respect, a questionnaire on PSI procedure (document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.68),
prepared by the secretariat, might be helpful in receiving contributions from other delegations.
Item 6 - Revision of the Kyoto Convention
Document: - Revision of the Kyoto Convention (TRADE/WP.4/CRP.67)
- The representative of the secretariat introduced document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.67 (Revision of the
Kyoto Convention). He informed the session that the text of the Convention was placed on the
World Wide Web Network and available for comments. As to the participation of WP.4 in this
revision, he mentioned Annex J.1 on computerization of the Customs service.
- To define the role of WP.4 in this process, the Meeting agreed to set up an ad hoc group
with the participation of the delegations of Switzerland, Germany, France, the United Kingdom,
the Netherlands, the WCO and the secretariat. The Chairman asked the delegation of the Netherlands
which holds the chairmanship in the WCO Working Party on the revision of the Kyoto Convention to
prepare a Note on the subject to be discussed between the members of the ad hoc group by the
middle of June 1996.
Item 7 - Trade documents names and functions
- At the request of the Chairman, who explained that this subject was covered with the
discussion on agenda item 4 "Analysis of the International Trade Transaction (ITT)", it was agreed
to revert to this item at the next session.
Item 8 - Aligned forms and the Trade Data Elements Directory (UNTDED)
Document: - Cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- A representative of the secretariat introduced document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.72, Report on
cooperation with UNEP on alignment of their documentation, and explained that UNEP had been made
aware of the fact that their documentation was not aligned with the UN Layout Key.
- Taking into account that this agenda item was considerably covered with the discussion on
agenda item 4 "Analysis of the International Trade Transaction (ITT)", the Meeting agreed to
revert to this item at the next session.
Item 9 - Legal and commercial aspects of trade facilitation
- Working paper prepared for the UNCITRAL Working Group on
Electronic Data Interchange - Thirtieth Session
- An EDI solution for the negotiation and management of the
interchange agreement (TEDIC Project)
- Report of the WP.4 Legal Rapporteurs to the March 1996 Session
- Report on the ICC initiative to replace the paper based letter
of credit with an electronic alternative.
- Recommendation No. 26
- This item was considered at the joint session of GE.1 and GE.2 on legal matters on
21 March 1996. The Report of this joint session is reproduced in the Annex to this Report.
Item 10 - Other business
- The representative of the secretariat informed the session of the publication of documents
ECE/TRADE/201, ECE/TRADE/202, ECE/TRADE/203, ECE/TRADE/204, ECE/TRADE/205, ECE/TRADE/206,
ECE/TRADE/207 and ECE/TRADE/208 which contain respectively the revised Recommendations No.3, 5, 9,
11, 16 and new Recommendations No.24, 25 and 26 approved at the September 1995 session of WP.4.
- The WP.4 Consultant on updating Recommendation No.16 introduced document TRADE/WP.4/CRP.83
on the preparation of the updated version of the UN/LOCODE which contains now 22663 entries.
He informed that, at present, the UN/LOCODE for the USA contains 11723 entries, and the Universal
Postal Union had adopted the UN/LOCODE as a basis for location codes for postal exchange purposes.
He also mentioned the problem of introducing diacritic marks which needed to be resolved.
Comments of delegations on this problem were welcomed.
- The secretariat informed delegations of the following WP.4 meeting dates and deadlines for
Meeting dates Deadlines
Week beginning Translation Issuance as "R" Document
Monday, 16 September 1996 15 June 1996 1 August 1996
Monday, 17 March 1997 16 December 1996 30 January 1997
- Contact information for submission of comments, as requested in the above Report:
For Programme of Work and Priorities:
Mr. Emile GOFFIN, Chairman of GE.2
Directeur general adjoint
Office belge du commerce exterieur
162, Bd. Emile Jacqmain, Bte 36
Fax: +32 2 217 61 23
For analysis of the International Trade Transaction (ITT):
Mr. D.Dima, Vice-Chairman of WP.4
Vice Président ROMPRO
Centre de Calcul SICOMEX
Ministère du Commerce
16, Blvd. Republcii
Fax: +401 311 1491
For revision of the Kyoto Convention:
Mr. Ari Van Bellen
Secretary General SITPRONETH
Senior Advisor EDIFORUM
P.O. Box 262
N-2266 J LEIDSCHENDAM
Fax: +31 70 327 6965
For UN/LOCODE - Code for Ports and Other Locations, and Revision
of the Recommendation on PSI Procedures:
Mr. Ernst SMIRNOV
Trade Facilitation Section
Un/ECE Trade Division
Palais des Nations, Office 440
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 00 37
Copies of contributions should also be sent to the secretariat of WP.4.
Item 12 - Adoption of the Report of the fifty-third session
- The report of the GE.2 was adopted on 22 March 1996 on the basis of a draft prepared by the
REPORT OF THE JOINT GE.1 AND GE.2 SESSION
ON LEGAL AND COMMERCIAL ASPECTS OF TRADE FACILITATION
(21 March 1996)
- Working paper prepared for the UNCITRAL Working Group on Electronic
Data Interchange - Thirtieth Session
- An EDI solution for the negotiation and management of the interchange
agreement (TEDIC Project)
- Report of the WP.4 Legal Rapporteurs to the March 1996 Session of WP.4
- Report on the ICC initiative to replace the paper based letter of credit
with an electronic alternative.
- Recommendation No. 26
- The Joint session was chaired by Mr. T. Blomfeldt.
- The Legal Rapporteur, Ms. Troye, reported on the activities related to the legal programme of
work adopted by the UN/ECE WP.4. The first item of the report was the publication of the
Recommendation No. 26 (electronic data interchange) on the commercial use of interchange
agreements for Electronic Data Interchange already adopted at a previous session. This
Recommendation completes the project 4.1 of the legal programme of work.
- The Delegates were informed about the first meeting of the JRT Joint Ad Hoc Group on
Negotiability in Oxford. The group included representatives of the Legal Rapporteur's Team and
the Transport, Finance and Security message development groups. The objective of the group is
to consider the requirements for developing electronic alternatives to the use of paper-based
negotiable documents. The group considered the need for negotiable and non-negotiable documents
in international trade in view of the different extent these are used in various geographical
regions in the world.
- A move from paper to electronic environment would have to:
- take into account different level of EDI capabilities in various regions;
- consider the extent to which national and international legal framework regard EDI;
- assess the compatibility of paper and electronic systems;
- evaluate solutions proposed by projects such as Mandate, EDIBoL, Bolero and the
replacement of paper letter of credit with an electronic alternative (CRP. 78);
- liaise with other international organizations, in particular the ICC and UNCITRAL,
working in this area from a different point of view.
- With regard to WP.4 participation in the Electronic Credits Working Party meetings due to take
place before the next session, it was agreed that the UN/ECE secretariat would discuss with the
delegations of France and United Kingdom their potential attendance.
- The representative of UNCITRAL gave a report on work in progress in that organization. The
attention of the Joint Groups of Experts was drawn to the contents of the working paper prepared
for the thirtieth session of the UNCITRAL Working Group on Electronic Data Interchange
(A/CN.9/WG.IV/WP.69) and to the report of that session (A/CN.9/421). Those two documents
contained draft legislative provisions designed to facilitate the establishment of functional
equivalents to negotiable bills of lading and other paper-based transport documents, for use in
an electronic environment. It was noted that those draft provisions, together with the draft
UNCITRAL Model Law on Legal Aspects of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Related Means of
Communication, would be discussed at the twenty-ninth session of UNCITRAL, to be held in
New York, from 28 May to 14 June 1996.
- The cooperation between WP.4 and UNCITRAL was discussed and the importance of that
cooperation was further emphasized. In response to questions raised by delegations, the Legal
Rapporteur clarified the different areas of competence. While UNCITRAL has competence for the
elaboration of legal rules through international conventions and other texts of uniform law,
WP.4 is contributing to the identification of legal problems faced by the EDI community, and to
the development of practical solutions and recommendations to improve the legal framework.
UNCITRAL agreed completely with this assessment.
- As a follow-up to document Trade/WP.4/R.1096, it was observed that a letter to international
organizations needed to be sent by the Secretariat in order to seek information about actions
being undertaken on the removal of barriers to the use of EDI.
- The Legal Rapporteur indicated that three new items of work were proposed for the LRT : data
protection, self-invoicing and the use of certification authorities. The Chairman raised the
issue of administrative demands for paper documents, linked with various formalities such as
stamping, in many countries in transition. He required the Legal Rapporteurs to take this issue
as a work item for the LRT. The Legal Rapporteur encouraged countries in transition to comment
and communicate their main areas of concern in the area of trade facilitation perhaps through
the use of the Questionnaire and the document TRADE/WP.4/R.1096. The Legal Rapporteur confirmed
that further answers to the Questionnaire on the national legal and commercial practices would
be taken into consideration in the analysis currently in progress.
- The Delegation of France presented the TEDIC project on EDI, which is summarized in
document TRADE/WP.4/R.1219. After discussion, it was decided that this project would be submitted
to the LRT for further examination and possible recommendations.
- Ms. Troye, was re-elected and Mr. Sorieul was elected as Legal Rapporteurs for the
following three sessions. It was noted that Mr. Ritter was not seeking re-election as Legal