Trade facilitation initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region will help ease the negative impact brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and keep the cross-border goods flows, according to a report released by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on Wednesday.
The Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Report 2021, jointly prepared by ESCAP and Asian Development Bank, showed that despite supply chain disruptions and surge in shipping costs that emerged during the pandemic, implementation of trade facilitation measures, such as expedited clearance and digitalization of trade procedures, still rose compared to pre-pandemic figures.
The report highlighted that cross-border trade digitalization has great potential to help countries in the region access critical goods. It further indicated that an acceleration of digitalization could cut average trade costs in the region by more than 13 percent.
"In addition to digitalization, there is also a need to pursue trade facilitation policies that make trade more sustainable and inclusive," said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations under-secretary-general and ESCAP executive secretary.
The report also made policy suggestions on how to enhance supply chain resilience, in particular emphasizing the importance of financial and technical assistance through multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization.