unctad.org | Trade Facilitation 2.0 - Enabling Trade in the Digital Age
Trade Facilitation 2.0 - Enabling Trade in the Digital Age
20 April 2018
13:15 - 14:45, Room XXVI
Geneva, Switzerland

Key Issues

​E-commerce offers major opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries but significant challenges remain, particularly in the areas of infrastructure and regulatory practices. This session will provide a multidimensional and integrated approach to trade facilitation, with a focus on the digital component.
One year on from its entry into force, the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has allowed for sustained momentum on the trade liberalization agenda and provided new oxygen in a stifled negotiating environment. The experience of the TFA makes a cogent economic case for the negotiation of trade-enabling rules where the agreement’s full implementation could reduce worldwide trade costs by an average of 14.3 percent, with the largest gains accruing to SMEs in developing and least developed countries.

However significant, the TFA extends only to the physical dimension of trade and is maladapted to the features of the new economy. Modern business models and structures of production reveal a new frontier for trade facilitation in this respect, expressed as Trade Facilitation 2.0. Simplified and harmonized procedures in other policy areas, such as investment, services, e-commerce and innovation are the next step in modernizing the WTO in order to respond to what the 21st century requires, and reaffirm the relevance and centrality of the multilateral rules-based system.

This session, organized by ICTSD in the framework of UNCTAD E-Commerce Week 2018, will bring together experts, international organizations, industry representatives, and Geneva-based trade diplomats to explore how Trade Facilitation 2.0 could be useful for trade talks and future negotiations, particularly as it relates to e-commerce. The session will open with an introduction to the concept of Trade Facilitation 2.0. The discussion will then be enriched with the business perspective to give a sense of the challenges on the ground, touching on the multidimensional character of trade operations and the need for a more holistic problem-solving approach. Finally, the session will identify the aspects of e-commerce that need attention with respect to trade facilitation that are either currently being considered or should be, and will examine how disciplines might be devised to address some of these areas.

Mr. Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz, Chief Executive, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)  
Ms. Aviva ZHANG, Trade Facilitation & Market Access Issue Management, Global Affairs Department, Huawei 
Ms. Maria PTASHKINA, Bridges Graduate Fellow, ICTSD  

Mr. Felipe Sandoval, Senior Advisor, Trade Law and Negotiations, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) 

H.E. Mr. Roberto ZAPATA, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Mexico to the WTO
H.E. Mr. TAN Yee Woan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Singapore to the WTO
H.E. Mr. Syed Tauqir SHAH, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the WTO

Co-organized with:International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)

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Charlie Hebdo