Enhancing Regional Connectivity: Towards a Regional Arrangement for the Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade

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Current implementation of paperless trade systems in the Asia-Pacific region focuses on application to domestic parts of trade processes, while international trade inherently requires trade information to flow across borders along internal supply chains. With current practices of paperless trade implementation limited predominately to the national level, the flow of trade information does not continue along an international supply chain; thus, it is being disrupted at the borders and results in traders turning to conventional paper-based trade practices. Yet given the fact that those countries in the region that are benefiting from implementing paperless trade only at domestic level, it is not difficult to see that efficiency gains will be considerably greater when the flow of trade information is facilitated across borders. This will, in turn, undoubtedly lead to major improvements in regional connectivity. Comprising three chapters and three annexes, this publication comprehensively assesses the current status of paperless trade in the region and beyond, elaborates on the need for having regional arrangements to facilitate cross-border paperless trade, and provides specific direction and details for putting a practical regional arrangement in place.




Recognizing the fact that benefits such as improved trade efficiency will be gained from implementing paperless trade, a number of Asian and Pacific countries, such as the Republic of Korea and Singapore, have already introduced paperless trade systems. A recent survey carried out by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), as part of the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum (APTFF) 2012, revealed the readiness of the region to make a transition to a paperless trade environment. Ninety-two per cent of the responding countries had an automated customs system in place, either nationwide or in major ports and/or airports.


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