Regular Programme of Technical Cooperation
Facilitating trade in South-East Europe
One of our main objectives in the area of trade is to reduce barriers to trade in goods and services by promoting wider application of our international norms, standards, instruments and recommendations, particularly in trade facilitation. One of our key trade-facilitation recommendations requires the establishment of a 'Single Window', a facility that provides a country with a single entry point for clearing all export, import and transit information and documents.
In 2005, the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia requested us to help alleviate the burden of trade-document procedures. These procedures had been slowing down the movement of goods after the introduction of new State borders in the Western Balkans.
In response, working with the Government in Skopje, notably the Customs authority, and with USAID, in 2006 we organized a regional conference in that country on trade facilitation, the Single Window for export and import clearance, and trade data harmonization. Almost all South-East European countries attended.
Among the results of the conference was the launching of a Single Window project in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as a regional initiative on data harmonization. During the following years, the authorities of that country managed to build the first stage of a Single Window.
A web-based facility providing a single location for filing licences for foreign trade operations was officially launched in February 2009. The authorities had been working with the experts from the conference, building on the UNECE standards and tools, participating in further regional training courses, and getting more support from USAID, Sweden and various organizations.
UNECE provided the basic standards and a broad platform on which it gathered all relevant agencies with their experts to assist the beneficiary country. This pilot project is an innovative step in the overall development of the Single Window concept for foreign trade in the broader European space.