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.
Single Window: Local Solution in the Port of Odessa in Ukraine
The objective of this project is to build a port community system for trade information exchange using UNECE’s recommendations and standards for trade facilitation. Three capacity-building seminars on Trade Facilitation and the Single Window organized by UNECE (Odessa, Ukraine, June 2011, May 2012 and May 2013), and several regional advisory missions to Kiev led to the launching of a Port Community System (local Single Window) at the port of Odessa. The key document/form in the system is the electronnyi naryad (electronic order). Since 8 October 2012, when the first electronnyi naryad was filed, 25,106 containers were cleared electronically (growing from 21 per month in October 2012 to 11,098 in May 2013). Initially, 6 freight forwarding companies joined the system in October 2012. In May 2013 they grew to 351. The “PPL33-35” enterprise, which was established in the port of Odessa to manage the PCS project, reports on significant progress in the implementation of the project.
An Interagency Working Group on the Single Window - Local Solution in the Port of Odessa was set up by a decision of the Prime Minister of Ukraine. It has held ten meetings since its inception in September 2011, to facilitate the implementation of the project. At its meeting on 30 May 2013 in Odessa, it decided to broaden its scope to cover a whole range of trade facilitation issues. One of the key areas, in which the project and the Interagency Working Group are advancing, is the identification of impediments for the Single Window and a functioning system of electronic signatures in the legislation. The group suggests concrete improvements in the texts, taking into account the views of many stakeholders.
UNECE is planning to organize the next capacity-building seminar in Odessa in May 2014 and to develop, in cooperation with the local stakeholders, a trade facilitation strategy for Ukraine, in which the establishment of a Single Window and other trade facilitation tools would be key steps. The plans are to expand the project to cover the whole maritime sector in Ukraine, and lead to a national Single Window project, which will use the experience of the Odessa project in the areas of legislative amendments, drafting a master plan, etc.