Trade facilitation is a potent instrument that can multiply the benefits of trade. Beyond direct impact on economic growth through higher trade flows linked to improved efficiency at the borders, trade facilitation reforms can also contribute to other policy goals. For example, through the dematerialization of trade documents, it can help to improve supply chain efficiency, and safeguard public health, as experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through easing of doing business, it can indirectly contribute to job creation by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), bolstering resilience in times of economic downturn.
A recent UNECE training that took place in Chisinau on the occasion of the launch of the study on Assessment of Trade Facilitation Framework - Republic of Moldova, brought together over 50 participants from a range of government agencies and development partners. It was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development and Digitalization and the Economic Council to the Prime Minister, which exercises the functions of the National Trade Facilitation Committee.
The UNECE study maps out achievements, ongoing reforms and future directions for capacity building work that is needed for the Republic of Moldova to deliver on its commitments under the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA). The document assesses country priorities, considering both national development strategies and cross-cutting UN agendas, and provides recommendations for Government agencies using UNECE standards and implementation tools, including those developed by the UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT).
In her opening statement Ms. Cristina Ceban, State Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Development and Digitalization of the Republic of Moldova, commended the publication of the report. “We are delighted to have this opportunity to benefit from the assistance of UNECE experts here in Chisinau. The recent results of the UNECE study highlighted the significant challenges we face, but at the same time the opportunities that we can explore together. Trade facilitation involves the process of simplification, modernization, and harmonisation of procedures, which is essential to ensure the free movement of goods, reduce red tape and promote transparency that contributes to economic growth," she stressed.
Worldwide, the WTO TFA provides the common legal framework for undertaking trade facilitation reforms. Full and effective implementation of such reforms is estimated to reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent and boost global trade by up to USD 1 trillion per year1, with the biggest gains in landlocked countries, like the Republic of Moldova.
At present, the Republic of Moldova’s trade facilitation implementation rate of the WTO TFA provisions is as high as 77.3 per cent according to the WTO TFA database, which testifies to ongoing progress with regards to digitalization and ease of doing business reforms (e.g. the implementation of Authorized Economic Operators schemes).
Furthermore, based on the latest results of the 2023 UN Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation, the overall implementation rate of General and Digital Trade Facilitation measures for the Republic of Moldova stands at 62.37%. Since 2017, the country has made significant progress in Transparency (+7%), Formalities (+8%) and Paperless Trade (+4%) measures. Still, there are remaining challenges that would require further technical capacity and resources (e.g. rolling out a fully operational Single Window system). Several digital trade facilitation measures can be further supported by UN/CEFACT instruments and contribute to advance the WTO TFA implementation, seizing the opportunities of digital trade. Such instruments include, for instance, the UNECE-UN/CEFACT policy recommendations for the establishment and operation of Single Window systems or the standards for electronic data interchange in cross-border trade transactions.
Mr Simon Springett, UN Resident Coordinator in the Republic of Moldova, emphasized the importance that trade facilitation agendas can have to reverse economic shocks. “Simplified and streamlined border procedures could help dampen the impact of external shocks and act as a catalyst of new economic activities. Identifying bottlenecks and solutions to minimize waiting times at the borders is essential for Moldova’s market access strategies… strengthening legal frameworks and implementing long-term digital and sustainable trade facilitation plans will surely help enhance the country’s position as a reliable and strong trading partner,” he said.
The training builds on years of strong partnership between the Republic of Moldova and UNECE, including the 2017 Study on Regulatory and Procedural Barriers to Trade and two 2021 studies on the impact of COVID-19 on trade and structural transformation in the Republic of Moldova on MSMEs and on the impact of COVID-19 on female-owned MSMEs. UNECE remains committed to further assisting the Republic of Moldova in implementing long-term trade facilitation plans to help enhance the country’s position as a reliable and strong trading partner.