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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

14 July 2021

Distinguished participants,

Dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the launch of the 2021 UN Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation.

It is my great pleasure to launch this 4th edition of this Survey, a tool that builds on the collective efforts of all five UN Regional Commissions and many partner organizations to provide a comprehensive and forward-looking understanding of the state of implementation of trade facilitation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted progress towards inclusive and sustainable development across the world, including by making it more difficult and costly to trade.

The pandemic has shown how dependent we are from each other, and how essential it is to keep international trade going in times of crisis, if only to ensure everyone can access essential supplies such as food, medicines and vaccines.

Trade facilitation has an essential role to play in this area, by cutting unnecessary red tape and simplifying import and export procedures.

I am therefore very pleased to report that this year’s Survey shows that, despite the pandemic, countries around the world have continued to make progress.

Distinguished participants,

The UN Trade Facilitation Survey has evolved significantly since it was first conducted regionally in Asia-Pacific, back in 2012.

The survey now covers not only the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, but also measures associated with the UN treaty on cross-border paperless trade facilitation in Asia-Pacific, which entered into force earlier this year.

The recent surveys have also paid special attention to sectors and groups with special needs, such as the agricultural sector, SMEs and women traders.

For the 2021 survey, the UN Regional Commissions worked with UNCTAD and others to develop an additional survey module, focusing on trade facilitation measures in times of pandemic-induced crisis.

Overall, thanks to excellent collaboration with a growing number of partners and governments, the Survey now covers nearly 140 countries and 60 trade facilitation measures.

Distinguished participants,

Although progress in trade facilitation between 2019 and 2021 is significant, implementation varies widely across countries and regions

Implementation of cross-border paperless trade remains a challenge everywhere, even though the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how useful it can be to exchange documents electronically to reduce physical contacts and the spread of the virus.

Much more also needs to be done to facilitate SMEs and women participation in international trade.

Looking ahead, I certainly hope that the results of the 2021 Survey will be helpful for all countries to design evidence-based trade facilitation policies that can make trade connectivity more resilient and inclusive.

I encourage all leaders to take advantage of all available global and regional mechanisms to make progress, such as the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific.

In closing, I would to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all our sister Regional Commissions –– for their collaboration on the Global Survey, as well to UNCTAD, ICC, ADB, ASEAN, OCO, CAREC and so many other organizations and experts for excellent cooperation.

I look forward to our continued partnership to translate survey results into meaningful policies and actions.

Thank you very much.

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