The cross-border paperless trade database is a joint initiative from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC):
Cross-border paperless trade, or cross-border trade digitalization, refers to international trade taking place based on electronic data and documents. It has great potential to boost trade competitiveness and support effective engagement in the digital economy. Implementation of paperless trade measures could reduce international trade costs in the region by 26%, saving the Asia-Pacific region $673 billion annually.
Implementing cross-border paperless trade is challenging and can only be achieved through close and sustained collaboration between countries, including through the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific.
In line with its mandate to support trade facilitation and promote cross-border paperless trade under the Framework Agreement, ESCAP has created a Cross-Border Paperless Trade (CBPT) Database, as included in the draft road map for the implementation of the substantive provisions in the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific.
The first objective of the Cross-Border Paperless Trade Database is to facilitate the sharing of knowledge on innovative projects and services managed by private and public stakeholders in cross-border trade digitalization. These projects and services facilitate cross-border paperless trade by reducing paper-based processes and developing new methods to exchange electronic data and documents.
A second objective is to act as a centralized hub for the collection of legal instruments favoring recognition of trade-related data and documents, and make them available to countries to accelerate the implementation of facilitation measures for trade and development: treaties, international agreements, national laws, recommendations, etc.
In the legal field as well, the Cross-Border Paperless Trade Database provides a tracker on the implementation status of the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR), established by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) following a resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 2017.
The objective of the MLETR is to enable the legal recognition of electronic trade documents or instruments (electronic transferable records), both domestically and across borders, and progressively replace their paper-based counterparts. The MLETR Tracker measures the progress made by countries in complying with this model by using eight distinct stages.
A third objective is to cover the implementation instruments used to develop trade facilitation measures and more particularly the exchange and mutual recognition of trade-related data and documents. Implementing international standards, industry-specific standards, technical recommendations, or proprietary systems is essential to harmonize trade practices and increase trade exchange between countries.
Among these implementation instruments, the Digital Standards Initiative from the International Chamber of Commerce on Key Trade Documents and Data Elements (KTDDE) promotes the interoperability of trade electronic documents and the definition of their core elements. Based on these principles, the KTTDE offers a Key Trade Data Glossary that gives all the Key Data Elements needed to comply with the MLETR.