Financing for Development/UN SDG's

UNCTAD, Five UN Regional Commissions Launch Project to Build Transport and Trade Resilience in Wake of COVID-19

June 02, 2020 |

• The project will implement UN solutions, standards, guidelines, metrics, tools, and methodologies to help developing countries build transport, trade, and logistics resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• The project is comprised of three clusters to match standards and best practices in transport and trade facilitation, taking into account new concerns related to cross-border freight transport operations and trade transactions as a result of COVID-19: contactless solutions and good practices; maximizing connectivity; and the exchange of knowledge and good practices.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the five UN regional commissions have launched a project to help governments and businesses to keep transport networks and borders operational and facilitate the flow of goods and services, while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

The project, launched in May, will implement UN solutions, standards, guidelines, metrics, tools, and methodologies to help developing countries build transport, trade, and logistics resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project emphasizes the exchange of knowledge and good practices, and aims to help governments in developing and least developed countries (LDCs) to adapt to post-COVID-19 conditions using UN expertise, standards, tools, and guidance, while taking their local conditions into account.

The project is comprised of three clusters to match standards and best practices in transport and trade facilitation, taking into account new concerns related to cross-border freight transport operations and trade transactions as a result of COVID-19.

The first cluster, focused on contactless solutions and good practices, aims to reduce physical contact in cross-border supply chains by facilitating the flow of goods without spreading the virus. Such facilitation will be achieved by implementing UN conventions and standards for harmonized electronic exchange of data in digital transport corridors, border crossings and trade operations, and development of smart rail and road connectivity.

The second cluster addresses maximizing connectivity and eliminating obstacles to cross-border trade and transport operations as a result of COVID-19. It seeks to promote synergies among border agencies by empowering national trade facilitation committees, improving customs automation, and identifying non-tariff barriers.

The third cluster addresses collaborative solutions on transport, trade, and logistics operations by strengthening regional and sectoral cooperation. This cluster will focus on international transit issues, as well as sectoral cooperation for ports as nodes of the global maritime shipping network, which are based on regional and national contexts.

The clusters build on UN conventions, standards, tools, and instruments such as UNCTAD’s Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), the eTIR International System (TIR Convention), and the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific. The clusters will also draw from regional intergovernmental cooperation platforms, and capacity-building programmes of the regional commissions.

The project responds to a call to action by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to tackle the socioeconomic dimensions of COVID-19 and align with the UN framework for the immediate socioeconomic response to COVID-19, which calls for improved connectivity and lower transaction and transport costs and is central to UN efforts to improve contactless, seamless, and cooperative transport and trade. Such efforts are expected to help economies recover better from COVID-19 and accelerate progress towards the SDGs.

Funding for the project is managed by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). [UNCTAD Press Release]

Compliments of the International Institute for Sustainable Development.