Countries on April 27 started implementing the first United Nations agreement dedicated entirely to accelerating cross-border trade digitalization at the first session of the Paperless Trade Council, convened in Bangkok under the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) auspices.  The session kicked off on April 27 and is concluding tomorrow.

Press release issued by ESCAP says the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific is a UN treaty developed by ESCAP member States to accelerate the implementation of digital trade facilitation measures for trade and development.

The start of the Paperless Trade Council reportedly demonstrates the Asia-Pacific region’s high-level commitment and leadership in digitalizing trade procedures.

As successful implementation of cross-border paperless trade requires sustained collaboration to develop the necessary legal and technical solutions, the neutral and dedicated space provided by the Framework Agreement will facilitate these efforts.  Full implementation of the treaty is expected to decrease trade cost by over 13 per cent on average across the region.

Unlike many other international treaties, the Framework Agreement is reportedly action-oriented and includes a provision on institutional arrangements for establishing different levels of bodies for its implementation, including the Council,  Standing Committee and working groups, encouraging parties to meet regularly to jointly work on actions and issues for facilitating cross-border paperless trade.

The Framework Agreement entered into force on February 20, 2021, in accordance with Article 19, as five ESCAP member States (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, China, Islamic Republic of Iran and the Philippines) ratified or acceded to it.  Timor-Leste became the sixth Party when it acceded on April 5, 2022. Several other countries in the region are expected to finalize accession in the coming months.