Asia-Pacific countries develop roadmap for first UN cross-border electronic trade treaty in the region

Significant progress was made on a draft road map for the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific today by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), to help cut trade time and costs in the region.

Once ratified, this treaty will be the first regional agreement of its kind to focus on implementing digital trade facilitation measures to specifically achieve paperless trade across borders. Open to all 53 member States of ESCAP, the new treaty will support the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which entered into force last month. It is also expected to harmonize the growing number of bilateral and subregional paperless trade initiatives in the region.

"The Framework Agreement provides a unique opportunity for countries to work together to reap the benefits presented by the digitization of economic activity,” said ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary Mr. Hongjoo Hahm. “Member States are encouraged to sign and ratify it as soon as possible in order to further paperless trade implementation in the region,” he added.

ESCAP research indicates that region-wide implementation of cross border paperless trade in Asia and the Pacific could lead to export gains of US$257 billion annually. Even partial implementation of cross-border paperless trade measures could lead to an export increase of US$ 36 billion annually, and the time required to export could decrease by as much as 44 per cent and reduce costs by up to 31 per cent.

Intergovernmental Steering Group on Cross-border Paperless Trade Facilitation made significant improvement on a draft road map which outlines actions for successful implementation of the treaty. The steering group, which is comprised of senior officials 25 countries, also agreed on a signing ceremony of the treaty to be held in August 2017.

In May 2012, member States of ESCAP adopted a resolution on enabling paperless trade and the cross-border recognition of electronic data and documents for inclusive and sustainable intraregional trade facilitation. The text of the new treaty was adopted in May 2016 and opened for signature in New York later that year.

For more information visit the treaty webpage.