[Read more session reports and live updates from the UNCTAD E-commerce Week]
The side-event, organised by Belarus and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), focused on the need to achieve harmonisation of data exchange standards and interoperability as a means to facilitate access to data in e-commerce and digital trade. The session served as a platform for presenting UNECE’s outcomes of the seminar on ’Single Window and Data Sharing for the Eurasian Economic Union Countries’; the peculiarities of the UNECE (UN/CEFACT) standards for the efficient functioning of a Single Window mechanism in international trade; and the experience of the Republic of Kazakhstan in implementing the Single Window system.
The event was moderated and introduced by Mr Dmitri Fomchenko (Deputy Permanent Representative Permanent Mission of Belarus in Geneva) who explained that the digital transformation of the economy represents a priority in the national programme of action of Belarus. Indeed, the country’s efforts can be found in the creation of the first comprehensive jurisdiction regulating blockchain technologies, and in the fostering of e-government as a means to improve public administration and simplify the engagement between citizens and the government. Moreover, at the national level, Belarus is pushing for a transition to a broader use of digital trading platforms as well as the development of electronic services; while at the international level, the country is supporting the World Trade Organization (WTO) launch of discussions on e-commerce as observers.
Mr Mario Apostolov (Regional Adviser UNECE) introduced his presentation stressing the need to develop global standards to support the overall work on exchange of information. Considering that standards on information sharing are needed but still missing, he explained that the work can be carried by UNECE as part of its standards development mandate. After this brief introduction, the panellists highlighted the outcomes of the seminar on ’Single Window and Data Sharing for the Eurasian Economic Union Countries’ among which the presentation of the Reference Single Window was underlined. The idea of the Reference Single Window is to have the same reference window for the countries of the Eurasian Economic Community. He argued that this goes beyond political limitation and relies on the need to achieve globally recognised standards. The main outcomes of the seminar can be summarised as follows:
The Single Windows should be seen as a digital ecosystem management for foreign trade.
There should be a transition from document exchange to data exchange.
A new development of the single window should be focused on its interoperability feature.
Document exchange and national jurisdictions should be harmonised.
The same international standards should be used.
The recommendations 33-36 of the UN/CEFACT Single Window should be recalled.
Building on these final recommendations, he stressed the importance of Rec. 36 with regard to the interoperability feature, based on four main pillars. First, with regard to the Single Window uses, he explained the need for international standards for trade and data exchange, as well as data harmonisation. Second, he stressed the necessity of interoperability on different levels of semantics, message syntax and legal systems. Third, he recalled the need for a harmonised legal basis for the exchange with Single Window systems, and called as a final point on a governance structure to be established for Single Window interoperability. Finally, concluding his speech, he recalled the data pipeline concept, which allows for gathering and sharing original trade data by the parties in a trade network.
Mr Evgeniy Yakushkin (Head of Electronic Resources Department, Centre for Identification Systems) explained the mandate of the centre as the main source of scientific and methodological support for the creation of information resources. Stressing that digital technology has changed the traditional mechanisms of trade he showed that the Single Window represents an e-environment in the paradigm of the digital economy which is not limited to a single entry point. In addition to that, the centre has developed a Reference Model with the specific requirement of meeting the compliance of the model with international standards. Finally, he highlighted how the approaches taken by the Eurasian Economic Union are similar to the ones in action in the European Union.
Mr Dmitry Godunov (ASYCUDA Regional Coordinator, UNCTAD) talked about the experience of the Republic of Kazakhstan in implementing the Single Window system. The approach was based on the streamline and simplification of trade transaction process; on the simplification of trade documents; and on the re-engineering of the back office which led to the Automated Single Window. Moreover, he underlined that the Single Window is not a system but rather a mechanism in which the management and overseeing of cross-border trade operation has been done with a customer-centric approach to the single window.
By Stefania Grottola