In the world grappling with the triple crisis, encompassing the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing regional conflicts, and climate change, disruptions of global supply chains are becoming more evident, resulting in the global trade slowdown. More specifically, these challenges have led to a significant decrease in international trade and investment flows, exacerbating supply shortages and contributing to the growing issues of inflation and rising prices.
Recognizing such severe impact of the triple crisis on global trade systems, the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), hosted by UNECE, is spearheading efforts to bolster the resilience of global supply chains while leveraging green and digital solutions to expedite recovery. UNECE and other international organizations have taken center stage in supporting countries, both through the public and private sectors, to prepare for future economic challenges.
Ensuring future resilience of supply chains was at the heart of the 40th UN/CEFACT Forum, which took place from 8 to 12 May in Geneva. This first-ever hybrid Forum with a record level of participation brought together 350 in-person participants from over 55 countries and welcomed an additional 1,500 virtual attendees to the various sessions. The five day-long gathering included 36 interactive sessions, providing a platform for global trade experts from the public and private sectors to explore standards and recommendations for trade facilitation while examining emerging trends in trade, transport, e-business, supply chain traceability, as well as resilience and sustainability.
Throughout the diverse range of domain sessions and panel discussions, attendees explored the ways to design digital trust graphs, ensure the efficiency of supply chain management, and to use digital tools can for creating sustainable travel and tourism. They also engaged in discussion about the future directions on Single Window assessment methodologies and Digital Product Conformity topics. Discussions resulted in advancing on key UN/CEFACT deliverables, including UN/CEFACT domain reports and the Recommendation on Encouraging Private Sector participation in National Trade Facilitation Bodies, which will be presented to the Plenary later this year.
Among key areas of focus for UN/CEFACT is the adoption of digital technologies to enable streamlined and efficient supply chain processes, while contributing to UNECE strategic goals for the digital and green transformation, as announced at the recently held 70th Session of the Commission. By leveraging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things, UN/CEFACT aims to enhance transparency, traceability, and trust within global supply chains. These digital solutions can help to mitigate risks and enable rapid response to crises, thereby accelerating the recovery process. In this vein, the Forum also discussed two newly launched projects, focusing on Critical minerals traceability and sustainability and the Buy Ship Pay data exchange structures for trade finance facilitation.
In her keynote address at the Conference, hosted by UNECE on the margins of the Forum, Suja Rishikesh, Director of the Market Access Division at the World Trade Organization, highlighted the importance of leveraging digital solutions. “Integrating green and digital approaches with stepped up efforts to facilitate trade can be a powerful way to make supply chains more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive," she noted. While the Deputy Executive Secretary of UNECE, Dmitry Mariyasin, stressed the pioneering role of UN/CEFACT in using digital solutions to facilitate trade and strengthen global supply chains, in particular its 950 standards and nearly 50 trade facilitation recommendations.
Overall, the 40th UN/CEFACT Forum served as a collaborative platform for dialogue and cooperation in key areas such as supply chain management, e-commerce, trade facilitation and digitalization as well as to exchange ideas on how to address emerging trends and evolving challenges. Moving forward, UN/CEFACT will convene its 41st Forum on 2-6 October 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand, followed by the 29th UN/CEFACT Plenary session on 9-10 November in 2023 in Geneva.
Note to editors
The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) is an international forum for experts from all UN Member States to participate in the development of global technological standards, recommendations and framework agreements to promote international trade through the simplification, harmonization and standardization of trade procedures and processes, envisaging the eventual elimination of paper-based transactions in both public sector regulatory systems and private sector supply chains.
UN/CEFACT is working closely with member countries to develop international standards and frameworks that promote interoperability and facilitate seamless integration of digital solutions across borders. Through its repository of 950 standards and nearly 50 recommendations, UN/CEFACT aims to eliminate barriers to trade and enhance the resilience of supply chains against future disruptions.
In addition to digitalization, UN/CEFACT recognizes the importance of building sustainable and environmentally friendly supply chains. By promoting circular economy principles, sustainable sourcing practices, and renewable energy adoption, UN/CEFACT aims to address the climate crisis and reduce the ecological footprint of global trade. More information on the UN/CEFACT website: http://www.unece.org/cefact
The Economic Cooperation and Trade Division (ECTD) of UNECE assists UNECE’s 56 member States to better integrate into the world economy and to harness trade, innovation and infrastructure financing and investment for the sustainable development of the UNECE region. ECTD’s normative tools cover many diverse areas, ranging from trade facilitation and agricultural quality standards to ESG traceability of supply chains, innovation and public private partnerships (PPP). ECTD also specifically supports UNECE’s 17 programme countries in Central Asia, Southern Caucasus, Western Balkan and Eastern Europe, helping create real impact on the ground in both developed and emerging economies. Find more information here.