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. UN/CEFACT regularly reports on its activities to the UNECE Committee on Trade and, when invited, also reports to the UNECE Executive Committee.
UN/CEFACT supports activities dedicated to improving the ability of business, trade and administrative organizations, from developed, developing and transition economies, to exchange products and relevant services effectively. Its principal focus is on facilitating national and international transactions, through the simplification and harmonization of processes, procedures and information flows, and so contributing to the growth of global commerce. 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, industry and service associations;
- Coordinating its work with other international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), notably in the context of a Memorandum of Understanding for a Global Facilitation Partnership for Transport and Trade;
- Securing coherence in the development of Standards and Recommendations by co-operating with other interested parties, including international, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. In particular, for UN/CEFACT Standards, this coherence is facilitated by cooperating with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and selected non-governmental organizations (NGOs), especially in the context of the ISO/IEC/ITU/UNECE Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). These relationships have been established and maintained in recognition of the broad application that UN/CEFACT work has in areas beyond global commerce and the key objectives of interoperability between applications and the ability to support multilingual environments.
The original document entitled “Mandate, Terms of Reference and Procedures for UN/CEFACT” (TRADE/R.650) was approved by WP.4, the predecessor to the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business' (UN/CEFACT), at its final meeting in September 1996 and was later approved by the Committee on the Development of Trade in December 1996. Subsequently, organizational changes, a change in organization name and experience gained from operating the Centre resulted in revisions to the original document, the last being Revision 4 which was approved by the UN/CEFACT Plenary in June 2006.
A document Draft revised mandate, terms of reference and rules of procedure for UN/CEFACT (ECE/TRADE/C/CEFACT/2010/15) was submitted to the 16th UN/CEFACT Plenary (8-10 December 2010).It was revised in the light of comments received and the revised text (ECE/TRADE/C/CEFACT/2010/15Rev. 1) was submitted for review and intersessional approval by Heads of Delegation by 28 March 2011. A few editorial changes were made through the intersessional approval process.
The present document ECE/TRADE/C/CEFACT/2010/15/Rev. 2 has been developed by the Bureau, after consultation with the secretariat of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and Heads of Delegation (HODs), and it incorporates changes arising out of the foregoing consultations
The web site provides:
- Trade Facilitation Recommendations
- Electronic Business Standards
- Technical Specifications
for the three pillars - processes, information and technology - that are vital in the development of world trade.
UN/CEFACT, a subsidiary intergovernmental body of the UNECE Committee on Trade, is mandated to develop a programme of work of global relevance to achieve improved worldwide coordination and cooperation in the areas of trade facilitation and electronic business, covering both commercial and government business processes that can foster growth in international trade and related services. It encourages close collaboration between governments and private business to secure the interoperability for the exchange of information between the public and private sector. UN/CEFACT and its predecessor have developed such instruments as:
- The UN Layout Key for Trade Documents, which is the foundation for the EU's Single Administrative Document (SAD)
- UN/EDIFACT, the international standard for electronic data interchange
- numerous trade facilitation recommendations
- the Core Component Library, containing syntax-neutral and technology-independent building blocks that can be used for data modeling
- XML schemas providing a series of coherent, consistent and normalised syntax solutions that are aligned with domain reference models for publication.