ICT Infrastructure and Services

UNECE: Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business


By simplifying, standardizing and harmonizing trade-related procedures and information flows, this programme helps you better engage in cross-border trade and electronic business. The aim is to improve your country’s competitiveness and enhance your capacity to participate in global markets. This is achieved by building knowledge and offering you the tools to ease national and international transactions for sustainable growth.

For whom

Decision makers
Private sector
Business Associations
Policy makers
Law makers
Middle Managers

Services offered

Policy and Standards development
  • Use 40 policy recommendations for trade facilitation and 440 standards for e-business
Policy Support & Policy Advice
  • Get help establishing and operating a National Single Window to simplify and improve export and import procedures
  • Analyse and simplify business processes to remove bottlenecks and enhance trade efficiency
  • Promote paperless trade transactions
Technical Support
  • Implement electronic alternatives to key paper documents in the international supply chain
Capacity Building
  • Benefit from advisory services and workshops to build the capacities of your trade facilitation institutions

Meet the beneficiaries

UN/LOCODE: the reference in coding for trade and transport

UN/LOCODE is a code structure that makes trading simpler by attributing a unique five-character code to locations used in transport and trade, such as seaports, train stations, airports and road terminals. The system, developed in 1981, is used by most major shipping companies, freight forwarders and manufacturers. It is also applied by national governments.

> 100 000

unique UN/LOCODE entries


Countries, territories and special areas covered

UN/EDIFACT: the international standard for exchanging trade data

UN/EDIFACT (Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport) was developed to facilitate the exchange of trade data between organizations with independent IT systems. It allows businesses or organizations, wherever they are, to quickly and securely exchange electronic documents such as purchase orders, cargo authorizations, etc. Today, UN/EDIFACT is used by almost all national customs administrations, all major seaports and a large range of companies.

90 %

of all EDI messages exchanged globally use UN/EDIFACT

> 7 million

messages exchanged annually in France’s agricultural supply chain

>100 000

companies use UN/EDIFACT in the retail sector

E-Business and E-Commerce standards for exchanging trade data

UN/CEFACT has developed a comprehensive e-business / e-commerce data exchange model based on a complete, holistic, global supply chain approach. This allows information which is exchanged electronically to be reused seamlessly from one stage of the transaction to the next. This is accompanied by business process analysis which allows to understand who performs what actions when. The information is also packaged into Reference Data Models around a specific sector such as transport and logistics or supply chain management, in order to facilitate uptake by the user community while remaining completely compatible with all other processes along the information exchange of a transaction.

  • Over 150 e-business/e-commerce messages adaptable to XML
  • API and other technologies
Success stories
Greece: promoting economic recovery through trade

In 2012, the Greek government developed a national trade facilitation strategy to promote economic recovery. The initiative focused on simplifying export and import procedures and reducing time and cost. With support from the programme, Greece managed to analyse, simplify and automate its trade and customs processes.

25 %

Improvement in time to export

44 %

Improvement in time to import

10 %

Reduction in cost to export

11 %

Reduction in cost to import

Ukraine: Enabling Environment for Trade Facilitation in Ukraine by implementing a Single Window

A Port Community System was established in Odessa and a national Interagency Working Group on Trade Facilitation and Logistics was created with support from the programme, and based on relevant UNECE Policy Recommendations. Follow – up projects on Maritime Single Window and National Single Window in Ukraine were launched.

185.5 million per year

Estimated economic gains for business

15 %

Increase in volume of trade registered in the port

85 %

Reduction in time for clearing containers from 2014 to 2016

11 %

Reduction in cost to import

Morocco: reducing port waiting times through a National Single Window

With support from the programme, Morocco created a National Single Window for its foreign trade. The resulting solution, called PortNet, uses an integrated IT system to bring together all the stakeholders in the Moroccan port and foreign trade ecosystem. It has helped boost performance for operators while significantly reducing costs.

PortNet: A tool to facilitate the complete integration of the foreign trade for importers and exporters.

45 %

decrease in unloading times at Casablanca port

14 day

decrease in the time needed for clearance

35 %

of containers leave the port in less than 5 days

75 %

of containers leave the port in less than 10 days

« The fact that an importer knows exactly where his goods are and when they are going to be delivered makes trade much easier. »
Rachid Tahri

Chairman of the Association of Freight Forwarders of Morocco

« We have a physical port, but we also need an electronic port. This project is a key part of Morocco’s ambitions to be a hub in international commerce »
Aziz Rabbah

Morocco’s Minister of Equipment, Transport and Logistics

Innovation corner & best practices
Simplifying cross-border trade

The Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide (TFIG) is an interactive web-based tool that helps you build your knowledge and capacity to ease cross-border trade. Aimed at both the public and private sector, it helps you identify, examine and select possible paths and implementing tools for your policy objectives. Available in 5 languages, TFIG has proved to be very popular. Its website registered 290,000 unique visitors between 2012 and September 2015, and 1.9 million page views.

> 10.5 million

Hits in 2016

Find out more about TFIG

Boosting sustainable fishery management

Fisheries Language for Universal Exchange (FLUX) is a unique communication tool that promotes sustainable fishery management. It allows Fishery Management

Organizations (FMOs) to automate the collection and dissemination of fishery catch data. This enables them to plan more sustainable management processes and detect and combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Discover more about the FLUX project

« About 1 billion people, mainly in developing countries, rely on fish as their primary animal protein source. In 2010, fish provided more than 2.9 billion people with almost 20% of their intake of animal protein. »
Marine Stewardship Council

(MSC, 2015)