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Who’s making trade easier and who’s not?


Reducing trade costs, with special emphasis on paperless trade, will aid growth and sustainable development for all countries. A United Nations global report reveals the leaders and the laggards in trade facilitation.

Make trade easier because it costs less and enables growth. This is the simple tenet explored by the most recent Global Survey on ‘Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation’ published by United Nations.

This is the second such survey (the first was released in 2015) to be jointly conducted by the five United Nations Regional Commissions, for Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, and West Asia. Although each commission is set to publish its own detailed paper for download, the global view presents a clear view of progress, highlighting how different countries and regions tackle non-tariff based sources of trade costs, addressing unwieldly regulatory procedures and documentation requirements across 120 economies.

Making it easier
Trade facilitation is defined by the UN as “the simplification and harmonisation of import, export and transit procedures”. A key element is the concept of ‘paperless trade’ which it describes as “innovative, technology-driven measures aimed at enabling trade using electronic rather than paper-based data and documentation”.

With WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) having come into force in February 2017, and a growing number of regional and sub-regional initiatives being established to encourage the electronic exchange of information along international supply chains, the world is waking up to a huge opportunity for growth and efficiency. Indeed, WTO estimates show that the full implementation of the TFA could reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3% and boost global trade by up to US$1trn per year, with the biggest gains in the poorest countries.

To date, the global average implementation rate of both the FTA and paperless trade measures is about 60%, according to the UN survey. There is clearly room for improvement.


More work, more help
The report concludes that across all surveyed countries there is “strong momentum” towards the implementation of trade facilitation and paperless trade measures.

Countries, it notes, “should continue to apply modern information and communication technologies and develop paperless trade to simplify trade procedures and enable electronic exchange of data and documents, not only between stakeholders domestically, but with all the actors along the international supply chain”.

Help is at hand. Policy recommendations and technical standards have been developed by United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) through the UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT). In Asia and the Pacific, for example, the 2016 Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade provides the ground rules for member states to cooperate and make progress in this area.

Key trade facilitation findings summarised

  • The global average implementation rate of common trade facilitation measures is 59.6%.
  • Developed economies have the highest implementation rate (78.5%), while Pacific Islands have the lowest (28.2%).
  • Among the developing regions, Latin America, the Caribbean, and South-East and East Asia achieve high implementation rates at 67.8% and 62.7% respectively.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa and South and East Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia achieve implementation rates of 51.8% and 50.7% respectively.
  • Benin (79.6%) is the top performer in Sub-Saharan Africa, while India (72.0%) leads the way in South Asia.
  • Macedonia (81.7%) leads the South and East Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia region.
  • The Netherlands (93.6%) is the best overall performer.
  • The UN-deemed developing regions of Singapore, the Republic of Korea, China, Malaysia and Thailand are the top performers in South-East and East Asia, all with implementation rates exceeding 80%.
  • Qatar and United Arab Emirates lead the Middle East and North Africa region, both with implementation rates exceeding 90%.
  • Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Chile and the Dominican Republic are the top performers in Latin America and the Caribbean, all with implementation rates exceeding 80%.

China: Five Years' Review of Supervision and Inspection in China


Original language: Chinese


Take measures to promote customs facilitation
During his presidency of the 16th meeting of the Central Financial Leading Group, General Secretary Xi Jinping specifically emphasized the need to improve the conditions for facilitating trade liberalization, set forth the requirements for the reform and development of the inspection and quarantine undertaking, and specified the direction. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, AQSIQ has taken various measures to promote customs clearance and facilitate the development of foreign economy.

Actively promote the inspection cooperation "three one." In the past five years, the "three ones" of cooperation in customs clearance have been piloted from some ports and have been fully extended to all customs and inspection and quarantine departments directly under the Customs, all customs clearance sites, and all goods and articles that require inspection and quarantine inspection in accordance with the law, "Once declared" system on the line operation. AQSIQ and actively promote cooperation in the inspection "a declaration, a check, a release" to simplify the customs clearance procedures to enhance work efficiency.

To promote the "single window" construction. Under the mechanism of the inter-ministerial joint meeting under the State Council's port work, the "Opinions on Promoting the Construction of a Single Window" was printed and distributed, and the "single window" construction around the country was actively promoted.

As of the end of 2015, 11 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) in the coastal areas have been on-line or pilot operated, and the State Council put forward the goal of "establishing a single window at the coastal ports by the end of 2015" as scheduled. In 2016, accelerating the "single window" construction of international trade, in conjunction with the relevant departments at the inter-ministerial joint conference mechanism under the State Council's port work, formulating proposals for the "single window" construction framework for international trade and coordinating and simplifying the data reconciliation, and conducting inspection and quarantine declaration data And the international standard (UN / CEFACT standard) benchmarking work, organize the development of inspection and quarantine declaration data set to establish a cross-border relationship with international standards. Actively open the inspection and quarantine data interface, summarize and replicate the experience of Xiamen Bureau, to achieve inspection and quarantine data platform and a single window around the docking and interoperability.

Accelerate the inspection and quarantine paperless. The past five years, AQSIQ and actively building a unified paperless business systems, to carry out the entire paperless, paperless paperless and the release of paperless work pilot. In 2015, the inspection and quarantine authority of the port reduced the inspection rate of general exit ports from 5 ‰ to 2.5 ‰, and the key inspection products decreased from 5% to 2.5%. In 2016, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine set forth the paperless inspection and quarantine work standard and sorted out the paperless implementation methods and on-site inspection requirements concerning 117 categories of import and export commodities and more than 400 kinds of documents. 报检 paperless batch coverage rate of 60% or more. At the same time, actively pilot the entire business process paperless, the use of the Internet, Internet of things and mobile communications and other means of information through information exchange Unicom, an active pilot admissibility inspection, inspection and quarantine, issuing clearance and other links, the whole process of data transmission Electronics Assignment.