The UN/CEFACT Forum—a meeting of experts from around the world working within the global remit of the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) - held its 18th meeting in Geneva from 19 to 23 September. This was the first UN/CEFACT Forum to be organized under the new streamlined project-oriented structure, aimed at timely delivery of recommendations and standards focused on stakeholder needs.
Participants included business and technology experts from 30 UN Member States, international organizations and other stakeholders. While more than 80 experts participated in the Geneva working sessions, additional experts located around the globe also contributed through teleconferencing.
The Forum reviewed all 60 current projects and aligned them with new, simplified procedures within the UN/CEFACT cross-sectoral Programme Development Areas (PDAs). These cover business processes both for governments and for the private sector which can promote growth in international trade and related services. The Forum also addressed maintenance issues concerning most of UN/CEFACT’s widely used products, such as UN/EDIFACT.
An initial set of PDAs covered topics and deliverables involving the following concerns:
· Trade and Transport Facilitation
· Supply Chain
· Methodology and Technology
PDAs in the business areas relied on experts contributing a wide range of domain experience and skills, such as accounting/audit, agriculture, customs, environmental management, finance/payments, government, insurance, international trade procedures, procurement, supply chain management, transport.
Experts also volunteered to assist in a wide range of procedural and operational tasks as part of the Bureau’s Programme Support, which includes communication and liaison activities.
In particular, the Forum drew up goals and objectives for the 2012-2013 work programme. These include steps towards developing a reference implementation showing how UN/CEFACT standards can be used together with others to implement an end-to-end international supply chain, and incorporating a Single Window environment. Plans will be advanced in the coming weeks with a view to submitting them for consideration to the 19th UN/CEFACT Plenary next February.
UN/CEFACT also made progress on important projects such as draft Recommendation 36 on Single Window Interoperability and a new Recommendation to highlight the work being done on hazardous substance handling such as the Safety Data Sheet; Global Harmonized System and Registration; and the Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances, including the completed work to support the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
Also under consideration are new projects in the areas of insurance, healthcare and the environment, as well as opportunities for improving the methodologies used for the development and publication of standards.
One of the briefing sessions reviewed the European core invoice implementation guidelines, based on the UN/CEFACT Cross Industry Invoice, which were published on 21 September by CEN, the European Committee for Standardization.
With its new structure and management, UN/CEFACT is strongly committed to improving communication with its stakeholders and experts and reaching out to new ones, expecially through active liaison, improving and updating its existing Internet site (www.uncefact.org), and new promotional materials.
Mr. Mika Vepsalainen
Mr. Pier Alberto Cucino
Vice-Chair Communications, UNCEFACT