ISLAMABAD: The new ‘Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific’ will be opened for signature at the United Nations Regional Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok on August 29.

Once ratified, the treaty already adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), will be the first regional agreement of its kind to focus on implementing digital trade facilitation measures to specifically achieve paperless trade across borders. It is expected to provide countries in Asia and the Pacific with a new tool and “digital” complement for better implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

Open to all 53 member states of ESCAP, the new treaty will support the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which entered into force in February this year. The treaty is also expected to harmonise the growing number of bilateral and sub-regional paperless trade initiatives in the region.

ESCAP research indicates that region-wide implementation of cross border paperless trade in Asia and the Pacific could lead to export gains of $257 billion annually. Even partial implementation of cross-border paperless trade measures could lead to an export increase of $36bn annually, and the time required to export could decrease by as much as 44 per cent and reduce costs by up to 31pc.

Pakistan has informed the third meeting of the interim intergovernmental steering group on cross-border paperless trade facilitation that it was at the final stage of inter-agency consultations and shared information on its activities related to trade facilitation.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2017

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