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Core Principles for Managing Risks and Contingencies in the Operation of a Systemically Important Single Window

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The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) has been working on the topic of Single Windows since the early 2000s and has developed a definition which has been largely accepted by national implementation and international organizations. This definition has been recently updated in a new revision of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Recommendation N°331.

“A Single Window is defined as a facility providing trade facilitation that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. Individual data elements should only be submitted once electronically.”

If a National Single Window has been developed in line with UNECE Recommendations N°33, 34 and 35, and it fully or partially ceases to function, this would result in considerable losses in international trade. These losses would be of “systemic importance” to an economy. In other words, the failure of the Single Window facility could potentially trigger an economic crisis.

The basic principles (outlined in section 3 of this White Paper) are meant to serve as universal benchmarks to help design Systemically Important Single Windows that are resilient and globally efficient. These principles should be of particular importance to Governments because of the effort required to improve and facilitate foreign trade procedures in order to promote a nation’s position in international markets. Indeed, the establishment of a Single Window can improve the trade environment, making the country more attractive for trade flows and foreign investment.