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Revised UNECE recommendation to improve trade data exchange in response to growing digitalization

UNECE recommendation to improve trade data exchange in response to growing digitalization

In business environment, effective data exchange is instrumental to reducing the cost and time of trade transactions, especially in the context of growing digitalization of global trade. If semantically aligned and harmonized with international standards, efficient data exchange can enable trade actors to exchange and use information received both within the company and from third parties.  

To ensure such interoperability and harmonization, UN/CEFACT acts as a semantic hub that develops trade facilitation recommendations and e-business standards that guide international trade for inclusive and sustainable development. At its recent 28th plenary session, it adopted the revised Recommendation No. 2 on ECE Layout Key: semantic information and codes in international trade data exchange.  

Representing a revision of the 1981 recommendation on the UNECE Layout Key, the revised recommendation promotes the use of codified data instead of textual inputs and references freely available code lists to ensure that all parties involved understand the same data in the same way. It provides a clear definition of key concepts for a consistent use of terms in commercial and logistics processes, such as shipment or consignment. It also outlines a process-driven approach to electronic trade data exchanges in supply chains. 

The revised recommendation is accompanied by UN/CEFACT code lists and the semantic dictionary of key international trade terms. As such, it directly contributes to advancing trade facilitation and supporting its implementation, and providing semantic interoperability in line with the recently adopted UN/CEFACT Programme of Work (PoW) for 2023-2024

More than 1,500 UN/CEFACT experts from both the public and private sector, will continue working to advance the methods of data exchange and facilitate trade in response to the global surge in digital data.   

Going forward, UN/CEFACT will be strategically placed to contribute to UNECE’s upcoming 70th session, which will focus on the digital and green transformations for sustainable development. Its  contribution will be particularly relevant to help tackle the ongoing disruptions of supply chains following the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.  

UN/CEFACT will also continue developing recommendations in support of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), particularly in the transition economies of the UNECE region, and countries that have begun their accession process to the WTO.  


Note to editors  

UN/CEFACT provides an open forum for all experts from the private and public sectors, while UN Member States have the final decisional power in the plenary. Recommendations, standards and other deliverables developed by UN/CEFACT support governments and businesses to implement trade facilitation policies and regulations at the international, regional and national levels, as well as to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

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