Trade Facilitation > United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

The UNECE supports:

  • Improved competitiveness;
  • Better integration into global supply chains;
  • Improved regional and international trade.

Trade facilitation and electronic business

The UNECE develops norms, standards, and recommendations for trade facilitation and electronic business through its Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT). The Centre is a focal point for standards related to trade facilitation and electronic business standards within the UN System. Its principal emphasis is the development of recommendations and standards, and it also develops (in cooperation with the UNECE secretariat) capacity building activities and tools to promote the implementation of its work.

UN/CEFACT supports activities for developed, developing, and transition economies that are dedicated to improving the ability of business, trade, and administrative organizations to exchange products and relevant services. Its principal focus is on facilitating national and international transactions through the simplification and harmonization of processes, procedures, and information flows. This is achieved by:

  • Analyzing and understanding the key elements of international processes, procedures, and transactions, and working for the elimination of constraints;
  • Developing methods to facilitate processes, procedures, and transactions, including the relevant use of information technologies;
  • Promoting both the use of these methods and associated best practices through channels such as government and industry and service associations.

Capacity building through diverse events and activities that can be grouped under the following main areas:

  • Activities to raise awareness, support and build capacity in national trade facilitation activities (including in TF organs) through advisory services and workshops;
  • Activities to support the national simplification and harmonization of procedures and data, including the establishment and operation of single window mechanisms for export and import clearance;
  • National and regional workshops to develop national/regional strategies for trade facilitation in the context of current WTO obligations and WTO negotiations on trade facilitation;
  • Activities to introduce and to support electronic alternatives to key paper documents in the international supply chain;
  • Other activities to support paperless trade transactions.

Because this UNECE programme and UN/CEFACT have a global remit, capacity building activities are organized across the world. However, because of the UNECE’s limited budget for capacity building, it mainly organizes activities in its own region; but it also supports other organizations, including other UN regional commissions, that organize capacity building in other regions.

In this area, close cooperation takes place with other international organizations, both within and outside the UN System. One of the most important forums for this cooperation is the Global Facilitation Partnership for Transportation and Trade (GFP) (

In addition, this and other cooperation mechanisms are supplemented by joint work on specific projects. Additionally, UN/CEFACT relies on its close relationship with the representatives of international business associations, such as GS I (the organization that allocates bar codes for products internationally), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), the Global Express Carriers Association, and others.

Finally, the UNECE cooperates extensively with regional groupings and trade organizations to support the implementation of the results of its work, including APEC, ASEAN, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) , the European Union (EU), EurAsEC, the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, and other regional commissions.

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