UNUnited Nations Economic Commission for Europe


UNECE Meeting on

Achieving Trade Security within a Standardized, Efficient
and Transparent International Framework

(Geneva, 24 February 2003)
Statement by Mrs. Brigita Schmögnerová,
Executive Secretary

Trade is an important engine of economic growth and the globalisation of trade is a dominant feature of today's economy. The development of an open and equitable trade environment is a key United Nations goal, particularly in relation to economic development and poverty reduction. Millennium Development Goal 8 is focused on the development of a global partnership for development. Specifically, the goal is to "develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory and includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction - both nationally and internationally".1 The Monterey Consensus further states that "globalisation should be fully inclusive and equitable"2 and the recent report by the UN Secretary-General (Strengthening the United Nations, September 2002) states that the development and implementation of a proper framework of rules, norms and standards for international trade is necessary to help the international community respond effectively to the challenges posed by globalisation.3

I mention these references to emphasize that the UN views international trade development not as an end in itself but rather as a vehicle through which economic development and poverty alleviation can be achieved. Our focus, therefore is on the full, equitable and open participation of all countries in trade, for the benefit of all. This is particularly important for UNECE. The UNECE region accounts for approximately two-thirds of world trade and our role in facilitating this trade, both within member states and between member states and the rest of the world, is one of our core activities.

However, we are faced today with a real challenge to international trade and this threat potentially comes from within trade itself, through the shipment of consignments containing weapons and other dangerous substances that could do immense damage to people and property. We have already seen the destruction that terrorists can create using our own technologies and structures against us. We must be under no illusion as to the devastation that a new terrorist incident carried out through our trade system would have on the flow of trade as we know it today. Clearly, and we must do everything possible to secure our economies against such events.

However, we must also ensure that our efforts to secure our economy are implemented in such a way as to minimise the potential negative side effects on our economy. As otherwise, we are handing a real and perhaps intended benefit to the very groups we are working to defeat. New measures to support security must not add undue costs to international trade transactions. We must also ensure that no specific country or group is excluded through these measures, as exclusion undermines the basic foundation of security which is a fair and just society, free of poverty and degradation.

Many are of the opinion that this need to strengthen the security of our international trading system is a unique opportunity to enhance our overall processes in trade in such a way as to increase both security and trade facilitation. We fully subscribe to this concept and believe that the availability of advance information and risk analysis techniques will facilitate the freer movement of legitimate trade while at the same time effectively targeting the small percentage of goods that may pose a threat to security.

In this regard, I strongly endorse and support the direction taken by the World Customs Organisation in the Task Force on Security and Facilitation of the International Supply Chain, and I commit the UNECE to work closely with the WCO on these developments. We certainly do not want in any way to duplicate this excellent work and the work of other organisations such as the IMO and ICC, etc.

However, I strongly believe that there is a need and opportunity for all of us to work more closely together, to be clear on where UNECE and other organisations can add value to the process, and also to be clear that the solutions we are developing are practical, stable and easily implementable by the business community which is, after all, the engine of economic growth and development.

We must also make sure that our solutions are for the many and not the few. We should not have unrealistic expectations regarding the potential of (and availability of funding for) Capacity Building project to bridge the gaps for implementing advanced technology solutions. Let us build long-term solutions that enhance the processes of trade in a secure, open and inclusive manner.

In this regard, we recommend the use of the business process analysis approach to determine who does what and who provides what information in order to secure and facilitate the international supply chain. I will ask the Chairman of our UN/CEFACT Business Process Analysis Working Group Reference Model of the International Supply Chain, to offer the services of the Group in this area. The Reference Model has just been updated and copies are available at the back of the room. We also believe that this model could be very helpful in determining exactly where each organisation, and their respective tools and instruments, can fit in and play a part in securing and facilitating the international supply chain in a harmonised way.

The Director of the Trade and Timber Division, Mrs. Carol Cosgrove-Sacks, will update you on some of the other tools and instruments that we are developing that can assist in the trade security area. I only mention these as examples of the rich resources that are available to tackle the issues at hand. I know that many of the other organisations present here this morning also have specific instruments and tools that can contribute to the establishment of a more secure trade environment in a broadly accessible manner and I would encourage you to bring these to our attention today. We at UNECE have over 40 years experience in the trade facilitation area and I believe that many of you present here also have long experience in the field. Let us pool together our resources to ensure a more secure and better facilitated trade environment for everyone.

We called this meeting an initial brainstorming session. In this context, I propose that you undertake the initial steps to:

  1. Develop a set of core UN principles, enshrining basic UN values that will act as a guide to the overall development of trade facilitation security initiatives.
  2. Explore possible mechanisms to work together to incorporate all of the existing excellent tools and instruments in a harmonious way to enhance the process of international trade to increase security and facilitate trade.
  3. Consider how we can best complement the existing work of WCO and other agencies, perhaps through the joint development of practical tools and standards that will assist in the implementation of a more secure and better facilitated trade environment.

I would ask you to be open and constructive in your discussions today to see where we can best support the current initiatives and where we can add value to the process, based on our expertise and experience in trade facilitation and e-business.

I would like to thank you all again for coming to this meeting and I wish you every success in your deliberations.



1UN Millennium Development Goals, http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/, October 2002.

2 Monterrey Consensus: Draft Outcome of the International Conference on Financing for Development, 1 March 2002. (A/CONF/198/3).

3 Strengthening of the United Nations: an agenda for further change, Report of the Secretary General (A/57/387), September 2002, page 10.