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35th UN/CEFACT Forum Webinar: Engaging private sector in National Trade Facilitation Bodies, What works and what does not work?

6 October 2020

Geneva, Switzerland (Webinar)

This Webinar will be taking place on 6 October 2020 from 13:00 to 15:00hrs, during the 35th United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) Forum (5-16 October 2020).

Engaging private sector in National Trade Facilitation Bodies, What works and what does not work?


Governments worldwide have set up National Trade Facilitation Bodies (NTFB), such as National Trade Facilitation Committees, to coordinate, oversee and plan trade facilitation reforms. These bodies pursue agreement, cooperation and collaboration between stakeholders from private and public sector. Private sector participants include importers and exporters from all industry sectors, all types and size of business, and intermediaries such as freight forwarders, carriers, customs agents, banks, and insurance companies.

A successful engagement of private sector in the NTFB is essential to the sustainability of the NTFB, and ultimately to implementation of trade facilitation reforms and the WTO TFA implementation. UNECE Recommendation No 4 on National Trade Facilitation Bodies stresses that impediments to trade facilitation can only be meaningfully analysed and cooperative solutions devised, with the active involvement of private sector participants.

Surveys of existing NTFBs by the WTO Secretariat and UNCTAD show that private sector is frequently included in the membership through associations. Private representatives may also be represented at the Board level. At the same time, both private sector and NTFB staff, report challenges in engaging private sector at the right level in a continuous manner. Private sector representatives also frequently raise questions with regards to benefits of participation and the contributions they can make?

This webinar shall provide an opportunity to discuss the challenges of engaging the private sector in the activities of NTFB. It aims to look into barriers and challenges for the private sector and public sector alike and to present possible solutions and approaches towards an effective engagement.

With this webinar UN/CEFACT aims to provide guidance on the effective implementation of UNECE Recommendation No. 4 and No. 40 and WTO TFA Article 23.2. The findings of the webinar will inform the future work of UN/CEFACT in this area.


This webinar aims to contribute to strengthening the organizational framework and performance of National Trade Facilitation Bodies—Committees or working groups—by sharing experiences and current practices. Speakers from the public and private sector familiar with the work and challenges of NTFBs will address the following questions:

  • How best to engage representatives from the private sector in the activities of the NTFB?
  • How to ensure an equal voice of the different private sector interests, in particular SMEs?
  • How to leverage private sector competence and contributions?
  • How to deliver on reform expectations of the private sector?

Draft Agenda

Agenda will be on this website shortly.

Welcome and Setting the scene (10 min)
Speaker: UNECE Director and UN/CEFACT Bureau

Session 1: Current practices and challenges (50 min)

  • Overview of current situation (10 min)
    Private sector participation in NTFB: Facts and anecdotes?
  • Benefits and challenges: Private sector viewpoint (20 min)
    Challenges, Barriers, and benefits for private sector
  • Experiences from NTFBs (10 min)
    Examples of challenges encountered?
  • Question and Answers (10 min)

Session 2: Good practices and Solutions (45 min)

  • Experiences and solutions from NTFBs (25 min)
  • Observations from a donor organisations (10 min)
  • Question and Answers (10 min)

Summary and recommendations for UN/CEFACT (15 min)