Skills development

UNCTAD: Trade Logistics – Transport and Trade Facilitation for Development


To enable e-commerce and unlock its potential for development, you need trade facilitation, efficient and sustainable transport infrastructure and transport services, as well as a well-developed supporting legal framework. Shipping services, cross-border trade facilitation operations, ports, roads and railways are essential to ensure goods and products are physically delivered in the right condition, on time and at the right price.

This programme helps you understand and address the challenges facing trade logistics and leverage underlying opportunities relating to e-commerce. It focuses on areas such as optimizing transport and transit operations, creating efficient transport networks, facilitating the financing of sustainable freight transportation, as well as undertaking substantive research and analysis and advising on a wide range of legal and policy issues affecting transport and trade. By supporting you with the operational, economic, legal and environmental aspects of trade logistics, it helps you create a transport system where e-commerce can be more reliable, more efficient and more sustainable. The programme also assists stakeholders from the private and public sectors to participate in trade facilitation reforms to make cross-border e-commerce transparent, fast and predictable.

For whom

Ministries and agencies involved in transport and trade, including port and maritime authorities, Customs, and other agencies involved in cross-border trade

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

Services offered

Capacity Building
  • Improve trade logistics, including international transport and trade facilitation, through training activities, best-practice sharing, advisory services and learning material.
Policy Formulation & Policy Advice
  • Get support designing, developing, adopting and implementing the right transport and trade facilitation policies and legal frameworks to promote e-trade and development.
  • Receive guidance in the elaboration of strategies to implement transport and trade facilitation policies for E-Commerce.
Technical Assistance
  • Benefit from technical support in transport and trade facilitation
  • Get help optimizing the logistics and the sustainability of e-commerce on both a country- and corridor-level
  • Undertake gap-analysis in relation to international conventions and best practices in trade facilitation, transit, and other relevant areas related to transport and trade.
Institutional Building
  • Benefit from training and capacity building for managers, decision-makers and executives to support institutional building
  • Empower National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committees to implement national, regional and multilateral trade and transport facilitation measures.
  • Build knowledge through training activities in transport and e-trade logistics
  • Provide training courses for transport operators and policy makers, trade logistics service providers, importers and exporters, shippers, carriers, transport infrastructure planners, government agencies involved in cross-border trade, developers and investors
  • Get access to useful reports, studies, technical notes, surveys, conferences, references and lectures on trade facilitation, transport and e-trade logistics
  • Benefit from research on areas spanning shipping, ports, multimodal transport, financing sustainable transport and trade logistics infrastructure and services, related legal and policy issues, and trade facilitation.
  • Learn from different country-experiences and best practices in the establishment and maintenance of National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committees available in the on-line UNCTAD repository on NTFCs.
  • Access on-line statistics on international shipping, ports, seaborne trade and connectivity.
Policy dialogue
  • Use consensus-building activities and intergovernmental machinery to exchange views, discuss relevant issues, and formulate policy options and solutions

Meet the beneficiaries

Sustainable Freight Transport (SFT): a portfolio of solutions for sustainable freight transport

The Sustainable Freight Transport (SFT) solutions consist of a portal, training toolkit, generic SFT framework and interactive map to support countries in building more sustainable freight systems. They help you provide and use transportation that is safe, socially inclusive, accessible, reliable and environmentally friendly, while being resilient to disruptions, including those caused by climate change and natural disasters.

The digital training toolkit covers all modes of transport, multimodal and transport across corridors, as well as logistics that addresses the “last mile”.  The SFT map is an interactive module showing national and regional strategies aimed at promoting sustainable freight transport. It allows you to search for and learn from existing strategies. The SFT Generic Framework is a methodology and documented processes helping you plan, design, develop, implement SFT strategies that apply at mode-specific and multimodal levels, in the context of corridors, urban/rural transport as well as at company, country and regional levels.

Sustainable Freight Transport Global Programmes and Activities

To Discover more about the toolkit:

Sustainable Freight Transport Interactive Map:
identifying relevant national and regional strategies aimed at promoting sustainable freight



Studies and Reports on Transport Law and Policy

Research and analytical work in relation to the law of carriage of goods and international trade covers a range of different issues, with a particular focus on :

  • carriage of goods by sea and multimodal transport, including “The Rotterdam Rules 2008”;
  • aspects of air law;
  • transport documents and their electronic equivalents;
  • other legal aspects of international trade, particularly sale of goods on shipment terms (CIF and FOB).


A number of international conventions in the field of commercial maritime law were negotiated and adopted or substantively prepared under the auspices of UNCTAD. In addition, various sets of non-mandatory rules were adopted under the auspices of UNCTAD.

Trade Facilitation Programme

UNCTAD supports developing and least developed countries in the implementation of their trade facilitation plans. The plans are elaborated using a standardized questionnaire based on section of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. For each country, they contain a description of the current situation for the trade facilitation measures analysed, a list of actions which would be required for the implementation of measures, the need for external resources, the proposed lead implementation agency and a preliminary sequencing of the measures.

Measures of particular relevance for E-Commerce include pre-arrival processing, express shipments, authorized economic operators, and measures aimed at enhancing transparency, as these are especially important for SMEs.

With a view to ratification and implementation of the Agreement, UNCTAD support covers

  • assessing technical assistance needs and preparation of categorization of provisions of the Agreement;
  • tailored training on trade, transit and transport facilitation;
  • advisory services on ratification of the Agreement;
  • assisting in the creation and sustainable operation of national trade and transport facilitation committees. In addition,

UNCTAD manages an online repository – covering more than 130 countries – of data on and analyses of national trade facilitation bodies and assists several regional organizations in coordinating trade and transit facilitation reforms.

Transport and Trade Facilitation Newsletter

The UNCAD Transport and Trade Facilitation Newsletter keeps you informed of key developments in the field of trade logistics.

To register click here

  • Review of Maritime Transport Series and on-line maritime statistics and indicators
  • Carriage of Goods by Air: A Guide to the International Legal Framework
  • Container Security: Major Initiatives and Related International Developments
  • The Use of Transport Documents in International Trade
  • Multimodal Transport: The Feasibility of an International Legal Instrument
  • Commentary by UNCTAD Secretariat on Draft Instrument on Transport Law
  • Electronic Commerce and International Transport Services