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Moving closer to achieving paperless trade - United Nations trade facilitation Forum, Stockholm, 24-28 September 2007

Simplifying trade procedures, cutting red tape and reducing the costs of international trade were central themes at the eleventh biannual Forum of the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT). The Forum was held in Stockholm from 24 to 28 September.

Opening the meeting, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Trade, Ms. Ewa Björling, said that UN/CEFACT had developed a number of tools that have been implemented globally. We must continue to safeguard the use of global standards. In addition, for the development and facilitation of globalized trade, we need to see new tools being introduced, and she also stated her belief that, “UN/CEFACT could provide the necessary platform for such work”.

At a special seminar for Swedish business and government officials, the Minister’s State Secretary, Mr. Hans Jeppson, emphasized the opportunities for Sweden presented by trade facilitation. He noted that, “there is a need for a lingua franca in international trade to cross borders and ensure that traders understand each other.” The seminar highlighted the importance of global standards in international trade. For example, by using standards, Sweden can automatically process 98 per cent of the 6 million customs declarations it receives each year.

Mike Doran, Chair of the UN/CEFACT Forum Management Group, announced an impressive range of new developments and standards. Among these were the imminent publication of three approved new UN/CEFACT e-business standards — namely, the eTendering Standard for Public Procurement, the Project Schedule and Cost Performance Management Standard and the Small-Scaled Lodging House Standard.

The meeting in Stockholm accelerated collaboration between standards bodies. UN/CEFACT and the UBL Technical Committee of OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) reached agreement on the process, which will be followed for the harmonization of the Universal Business Language (UBL) Library with the UN/CEFACT Core Component Library. Alignment work is already under way and should be completed next year.

During a seminar on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) within UN/CEFACT it was concluded that the IPR policy of UN/CEFACT provides an innovative solution to the issue with significantly better protection mechanisms for users and standards development than the IPR policies implemented in many other IT standards organizations. As the UN/CEFACT IPR policy is both innovative, and relatively new, it was agreed to review opportunities to strengthen the overall IPR framework, which also includes processes and procedures.

The Forum was attended by over 250 participants from 32 countries.

At the meeting, UN/CEFACT published the latest version of the technology neutral Core Component Library for 2007, CCL07A. The Accounting and Audit Group also announced that the Accounting Token technique will be incorporated into electronic documents published by UN/CEFACT This opens a direct link between business and accounting particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.

UN/CEFACT will hold its next Forum in Mexico City from 7 to 11 April 2008.

For further information on the Forum, see http://www.uncefactforum.org/

or contact:

Mike Dora

Chair, UN/CEFACT Forum Management Group
E-mail: Mike.Doran@cern.ch
Phone: +41 (0) 22 767 1872

Jean Kubler

Chief, Global Trade Solutions Branch
UNECE Trade Division
E-mail: jean.kubler@unece.org
Phone: +41 (0) 22 917 2774