The United Nations-led Asia-Pacific treaty on paperless transactions where the Philippines acceded to this week will cut trade costs in the country by a tenth, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Unescap) said.However, Unescap trade policy and facilitation section chief Yann Duval told the Inquirer in an email that to date, only the Philippines and Azerbaijan —“a leader in paperless trade in the Central Asia and Caucasus region” — have completed the accession process to the UN’s Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific.
“At least three more countries need to either accede or ratify the framework agreement before it can take effect. About 25 countries are engaged in that process, so there is a fair chance the treaty will enter into force before the end of 2020,” Duval said.
Citing the recently released UN Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation 2019 report, Duval said “implementation of cross-border paperless trade could reduce trade costs of the Philippines by around 10 percent.”
“Trade cost savings are expected to increase further if more of the Philippines’ trade partners also participate,” Duval added.
A subregional report on Asean showed that the region “made the most progress in implementing the cross-border paperless trade measures between 2017 and 2019,” as Unescap said the implementation rate jumped by 17 percentage points to 48 percent this year from 31 percent two years ago.
“The Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, a homegrown UN treaty that many Asean countries actively contributed to develop, provides the ideal platform for Asean to further develop its leadership in this area,” Unescap said.
“Asean members should consider accelerating their efforts toward digital trade facilitation. The impact analysis of trade facilitation measures on Asean trade costs strongly supports the need for Asean to implement paperless trade and the seamless electronic exchange of trade data and documents among themselves and with other trade partners, to boost trade competitiveness,” Unescap added.