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UNECE, the Eurasian Economic Commission and Belarus join forces to promote use of same semantic standards in trade data sharing and Single Window implementation

UNECE, the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) and various partners in Belarus have made a step ahead in supporting the use of UN/CEFACT international semantic standards and new technologies in Single Window mechanisms for export and import clearance and for trade data exchange in the broader European area.

The EEC, in collaboration with the member States of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), UNECE and its UN/CEFACT experts, has been working on Single Window development and related projects on trade data sharing for several years. The Single Window is a key trade facilitation instrument, and the entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement has further fostered the engagement of countries in implementing such mechanisms. Representatives of all EEU countries clearly note that the first stage of launching Single Window mechanisms has been completed, and a new one focused on interoperability of Single Window mechanisms and the implementation of new technologies should foster cross-border data sharing and a consequent trade development in the broader region.

The EEC revealed its Reference Model for a national Single Window at a joint UNECE - EEC seminar, held 10-11 December 2018 in Minsk. The Reference Model is the fruit of years of collaboration. Experts from Belarus, in cooperation with international specialists commissioned by the EEC, presented their research on describing the Single Window Reference Model. The EEU member States shared their experience in advancing Single Window projects developed in alignment with that model and international standards.

One of the core aspects of implementing a Single Window is to harmonize business processes and streamline data and documentary requirements. The underlying semantic basis of information exchange is a key aspect of this work. To ensure that all stakeholders (sending, receiving or consulting) related to the data exchange understand the same information in the same way, a clearly agreed set of data aligned with international standards should be developed. To this end, the UN/CEFACT Chairperson, Sue Probert and UNECE experts presented to the EEU experts practical data sharing methods: from data modelling, including the UN/CEFACT multimodal transport reference data model and the EU Customs Data Model, to data pipelines, as well as the influence of new technologies, such as blockchain, on data sharing, and the development of electronic trade and transport documents, such as the eCMR.

The meeting recommended the development of pilot projects, for example on automating multimodal transport exchange of data along corridors to enable the practical implementation of such advanced trade facilitation tools as Single Window or advance submission of information and advance rulings.  

The seminar clarified and promoted UN/CEFACT’s work on new methods of exchange of information, including the Data Pipeline principle (aiming to capture data at its source, improving data quality and allowing the data to be shared earlier in the exchange) and Reference Data Models – a logical subset of data linked to a specific area of activity (transport or supply chain). These tools are aligned to all areas of activity along the entire supply chain and seek to include all data requirements in multiple economies to ensure that the standards are reusable across borders.

As a result of the seminar, UNECE will work with partners in Belarus on the development and implementation of electronic transport documents using the UN/CEFACT multimodal transport reference data model. Another follow up will be a meeting in 2019 between UNECE and UN/CEFACT experts with the team developing the Data Model of the EEC with a view to harmonize data models in the broader European space, using the same, UN/CEFACT-supported, semantic basis for modelling.