Reports Shows Evolving Work Focus Around Innovation and Digitised Approaches
Despite one of the most challenging years in recent history, the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation emerged from 2020 having increased its project work, refined its focus on innovation and digitisation to tackle trade hurdles, and worked harder to help the benefits of easier and simpler trade reach smaller businesses in developing countries, particularly those owned by women.
These advances are detailed in the Alliance’s Annual Report 2020, published today.
Alliance Director Philippe Isler introduced the latest annual report by observing that the global response to the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of governments and businesses working together toward a common goal. This kind of public-private collaboration is the central tenet of the Alliance’s work in assisting developing and least developed countries in improving trade processes and boosting local business conditions.
During 2020, the Alliance saw mounting interest from both governments and businesses eager to find solutions to the barriers and red tape that impede trade and cost both sectors time, resources, and competitiveness in global markets. The annual report shows the Alliance launched four new projects in three countries (Madagascar, Nigeria, and Senegal), bringing the Alliance’s portfolio of active projects to 15, and it was exploring more than 20 additional project ideas globally.
The Alliance also made significant strides in evolving its areas of focus during 2020 as it gained experience in introducing technological solutions to many of trade’s most intractable barriers. In particular, the Alliance is now working with several countries seeking to adopt the electronic phytosanitary certificate or ePhyto system, to replace paper-based methods of proving that plant or plant-based product shipments are free of pests and comply with local health standards. These projects will prove increasingly vital as developing countries look to improve food security amid the ongoing health crisis and a changing climate.
Businesses were even more closely engaged with the Alliance’s trade facilitation work thanks to a new initiative that invites its global business partners to suggest project ideas where they see specific trade hurdles. The Alliance received more than a dozen such ideas during 2020 and the first projects to arise from these proposals are expected in coming weeks.
Innovation is proving to be another driver for the Alliance’s work, as reflected in its participation in two hackathons during 2020 that together attracted more than 800 participants and generated over 110 ideas for trade facilitation.
The 2020 Annual Report also laid out ways in which the Alliance is integrating gender mainstreaming across its projects to ensure that they benefit women and men equally, giving women-led businesses a better chance of a level playing field. The report goes on to examine other factors that are key to successful trade facilitation efforts, including ways to bring small and medium enterprises into trade reform processes and the way that Alliance projects are helping build and deepen trust between the private and public sectors, in addition to delivering measurable results in trade reform.
You can access the Alliance’s Annual Report 2020 here.