While the World Trade Organization’s landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) agreed to at the Bali conference in 2013 struggles to be finalized amid disputes over global trade rules pertaining to food security, the United Nations Conference on Trade Development (UNCTAD) is aiming to launch a new Trade Facilitation web portal to provide companies with easy access to trade procedures in all parts of the world.
The UN body that works on development issues related to international trade is looking to build on its existing Global Enterprise Registration (GER) index to promote best practices in simplifying procedures in registering a business, a crucial factor for economic prosperity.
“New firm formation is the primary driver of long-term economic growth – as well as innovation and wealth creation in all types of economies,” says Jonathan Ortmans, a trade policy advisor and Senior Fellow at the Kauffman Foundation. “As entrepreneurial ecosystems develop around the world, it will be those that simplify the process for entrepreneurs to start and scale their enterprises that are the most successful.”
The new trade facilitation portal “would probably significantly accelerate the simplification of trade procedures and the application of the WTO Bali agreement on Trade Facilitation,” Frank Grozel, Coordinator, Business Facilitation Programme, UNCTAD, told The Dollar Business, a trade publication based in India. “The peer pressure might bring governments to radically simplify their business registration procedures. They will be able to see on the GER site what the best practices are and then replicate those easily.”
“Once demonstrated that simplifying is not difficult, and that it mainly depends on the political will, traders will have a much better case in asking governments to simplify administrative procedures relating to import and export,” Grozel says. “First by detailing them clearly online (through information portals, such as those listed in the second index on the GER site); and hopefully by creating single windows allowing traders to apply simultaneously for all the necessary certificates and permits (previous licences, Customs clearance, port/airport authorities, technical controls, etc).”