Better trade facilitation to aid in economic recovery

Louise Maureen Simeon – The Philippine Star

October 7, 2021 | 12:00am


MANILA, Philippines — Streamlining trade procedures will significantly aid economic recovery in the Asia-Pacific amid challenges in the global value chain due to the pandemic, a joint report with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) noted.

The updated Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Report 2021 of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and ADB showed that the implementation of general and digital trade facilitation measures across the region rose to almost 65 percent.

This comes as countries continue to move toward a seamless and efficient trading environment, within and beyond national borders.

In July, UNESCAP released the initial results of the report where the Philippines saw its score jump to 86 percent this year from 80.65 percent in 2019. The report is produced biennially.

The country’s score is better than the 74.3 percent average in the whole of Southeast Asia.

To generate a score, five categories are taken into account including cross-border paperless trade, paperless trade, institutional arrangement and cooperation, formalities and transparency.

UNESCAP undersecretary general Armida Alisjahbana said economies in the region have managed to cut red tape to keep trade flowing despite the pandemic.

But while trade in goods has been recovering, Alisjahbana emphasized that supply chains need to be made more resilient, particularly to ensure the supply of critical goods.

ADB vice president for knowledge management and sustainable development Bambang Susantono said that while economic recovery is underway, it remains precarious and uncertain amid the continued emergence of new COVID variants.

“The disruptions of the outbreak have also underscored the important role trade facilitation plays in economies and will play in the recovery,” Susantono said.

“The pandemic also revealed the need for digital, paperless trade procedures to facilitate cross-border movement of critical goods during global health emergencies, while maintaining open trade regimes to maintain equitable access to essential goods,” he said.

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