UNCTAD’s global forum for NTFCs to focus on easing cross-border trade

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is all set to host the global forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees (NTFCs) as a virtual event to examine the acceleration of trade facilitation reforms through these committees during and after the pandemic.

The forum, which is set to be held from February 1 to 4, offers an opportunity to members of NTFCs, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders to discuss the latest trends in the implementation of trade facilitation reforms and share insights on good practices.

The countries are at a turning point amid the COVID-19 crisis, and the decisions their policymakers take to ease trade will go a long way in determining the strength of their recovery from the pandemic, UNCTAD said ahead of the forum.

 Rebeca Grynspan
Rebeca Grynspan

“COVID-19 has been a stark reminder that the pains caused by trade disruptions are real. These pains were already daily realities for people in vulnerable nations, who rely on trade for essential goods. Making it easier and less costly to move goods across seas and borders is critical to ensuring a sustainable and inclusive recovery. Because trade is about people and about improving their lives.”

NTFCs are multi-stakeholder coordination bodies established in most countries as public-private partnerships to advance trade facilitation and logistics policy reforms. The committees play a key role in assisting global supply and value chains to be efficient and identifying best trade measures in times of emergencies such as the pandemic.

The global forum aims to offer participants evidence on how planning, organization, automation and digitalization of NTFCs’ work can assist in advancing and accelerating trade facilitation reforms.

During the forum, the participants will examine the progress made in the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other agreements at the national and regional levels.

Among other issues, the forum will also examine tangible solutions and approaches to empower NTFCs as coordinators of trade facilitation reforms and how they can mainstream digital tools.

The digital tools guarantee that NTFCs can effectively coordinate their trade facilitation activities without disruption. The tools can also help to solve many recurrent challenges facing NTFCs, such as the rotation of members and the lack of accountability, making the committees more results-oriented.

Participants will also discuss NTFCs’ role in promoting gender equality in trade facilitation policies, as women traders often face gender-based barriers, such as legal discrimination and verbal, physical and sexual violence at borders.

Further, the forum will offer countries a unique opportunity to learn more about the trade facilitation programs offered by UNCTAD and its partners.

The event will feature the launch of the Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation Global Report 2021, jointly prepared by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and other UN regional commissions. It provides insights on the implementation of trade facilitation measures in 144 economies.

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