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Enabling connectivity through harmonized tools

The UN Conventions on border crossing help over 75 countries to develop sustainable and resilient cross-border infrastructure to drive economic growth and open new trade routes. Examples include:

  • The TIR Convention, the only global customs transit system in existence, which facilitates trade and the seamless and secure movement of goods across borders. The TIR system, used by over 34,000 transport and logistic companies in its 76 Contracting Parties, reduces cross-border transport time by up to 80%, and costs by up to 38%.
  • 1 billion transport contracts are issued annually based on the CMR Convention administered by UNECE, enabling seamless road freight. The digitalization of such standards is helping to bring additional efficiency gains, further multiplying the benefits of their use.

This is complemented by over 570 standards and 40 recommendations on trade facilitation and electronic business that help countries and companies cut trading costs, reduce bureaucracy and implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. Enabling the accelerated digitalization of tools and procedures is a key dimension of this work.

Examples include:

  • A clear, semantic library of data elements relative to the entire international supply chain and every sector of activity, with over 2,000 entries. This also includes all of the codified information in electronic messages used by nearly every standards organization and most countries in the world.
  • Infrastructure agreements for all inland transport modes aimed at creating an internationally connected network of infrastructure to facilitate the movement of people and freight within and across national borders across the region.
  • Specific border-crossing conventions aimed at reducing the physical and administrative barriers holding up the movement of goods and passengers at international crossing points.
  • UN/EDIFACT - a cornerstone international standard for the electronic exchange of data that is widely used in international supply chains, transport and logistics. It is used by 100,000 traders in the retail sector alone. Shipping companies and terminals exchange more than 1 billion UN/EDIFACT messages per year covering more than 75% of sea-freight worldwide (2017).
  • UN/LOCODE - the unique code for identification of ports, airports, inland depots, freight terminals and other transport locations. More than 100,000 locations are registered in 249 countries.
  • Recommendation 33 on “Single Window” facilities, which simplify and streamline customs procedures for international trade. Through the Maritime Single Window in the Odessa (Ukraine), launched with UNECE support, the processing time of goods and vehicles in seaports dropped from 15 hours to 2.5 hours, with estimated annual savings by businesses of approximately USD 190 million and a 15% increase in the ports’ capacity.
  • UNECE norms and standards ranging from agriculture to vehicle regulations help to reduce costs through economies of scale, eliminating technical barriers to trade and enabling countries to access new export markets.
  • Over 100 international agricultural quality standards developed at UNECE help producers to access international markets, boosting trade as a foundation for sustainable development. The EU has adopted 10 of these standards as mandatory for trade, with 46 others identified as recommended practice. 50 countries beyond the UNECE region also use these standards.
  • Within the European Union, electronic invoices are obligatory for procurement by all public entities. The UN/CEFACT Cross Industry Invoice streamlines administrative procedures and reduces the use of paper, bringing annual benefits of up to €40 billion in the business-to-business field alone.