In this webinar, Dr Yann Duval discussed the state of digital trade facilitation in ASEAN and what may be done to accelerate progress and make supply chains more efficient, transparent and sustainable. He draws from the Digital and Sustainable Regional Integration Index to explore how well ASEAN economies have integrated into the regional digital economy.
ASEAN STUDIES CENTRE WEBINAR
Friday, 26 June 2020 – The ASEAN Studies Centre of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute organised a webinar “Digital Trade Facilitation in ASEAN” delivered by Dr Yann Duval, Chief of the Trade Policy and Facilitation Section, Trade, Investment and Innovation Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
Dr Duval began his presentation with an overview of the current stage of the implementation of digital trade facilitation in ASEAN. Drawing on the most recent data from the UN Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation, Dr Duval highlighted that ASEAN was leading other regional groupings of developing countries in cross-border paperless trade due to the on-going implementation of trade facilitation measures in ASEAN, including the ASEAN Single Window. However, the rate of implementing digital trade facilitation measures varied across ASEAN countries, ranging from the lowest in Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to the highest in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.
On the progress of the implementation of cross-border measures of digital trade facilitation in ASEAN, the UN Global Survey’s findings indicate that ASEAN had made good progress in advancing paperless trade measures among regulatory authorities within individual countries and cross-border paperless trade measures among ASEAN countries. The average implementation rate of paperless trade measures in ASEAN rose from 62% in 2017 to 73% in 2019, while its average implementation rate of cross-border paperless trade measures rose from 31% to 48% over the same period. Although none of the cross-border paperless trade measures had been fully implemented in ASEAN, most of these measures, such as electronic exchanges of certificate of origin, customs declaration, and sanitary and phytosanitary certificate, had been partially implemented or were in the pilot stages of implementation.
To accelerate the progress of digital trade facilitation in ASEAN, Dr Duval proposed that more ASEAN countries should join the UNESCAP’s Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific for three reasons. First, it can maintain leadership on digital trade facilitation and ensure long-term policy commitment to trade digitalisation. Second, it can leverage existing achievements on cross-border paperless trade such as ASEAN Single Window. Third, it can accelerate progress on trade digitalisation, reduce trade costs, and develop expertise and jobs in digital services sector. As at present, only Cambodia formally signed on the Framework Agreement in 2017 and the Philippines acceded to it in December 2019.
The Q&A discussion touched on several related issues such as the quality of implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement provisions, the involvement of the private sector in drafting the Framework Agreement, key obstacles in accelerating digital cross-border trade facilitation in ASEAN as well as the readiness level in implementing the framework in the aspects of infrastructure, technical and legal institutions. It was also noted that due to the COVID-19 impact, the process of the implementation of digital trade facilitation measures may slow down as ASEAN countries may need to mobilize their domestic resources to cope with the pandemic.
More than 100 attendees from the policy, business and research communities in Singapore and in the region attended the webinar.