The latest UN survey on trade facilitation released on 5 July 2023 finds that global trade facilitation has progressed despite the multitude of unprecedented challenges faced by economies. The fifth United Nations Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation covering 161 countries, measured progress in more efficient trade facilitation with the overall implementation rate of general and digital trade facilitation measures by over six percentage points between 2021 and 2023.
In the Asia Pacific region, measures included in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement continue to be largely implemented and paperless trade facilitation measures improved the most over the period. Crucial to the progress made globally were regional and subregional initiatives such as the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific (CPTA), the expansion of the ASEAN Single Window Agreement, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. These initiatives could further support countries in gradually moving to less paper and then to paperless and cross-border paperless trade by providing a dedicated, inclusive and capacity-building intergovernmental platform, inevitably strengthening the supply chains of tomorrow.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that travel restrictions enabled greater cooperative efforts in regional initiatives as well as brought home the message of modernising trade facilliation. However, much work in sustainability and inclusivity remains to be carried out.