Estimated reading time: 1 minute

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Digital Standards Initiative (DSI) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) have issued a joint call to action to expedite the adoption of globally interoperable standards, which are crucial for enabling digital trade across the world.

The call to action was made during the 42nd Forum of the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), hosted by UNECE in Geneva. This event emphasised the vital role of standardized digital trade processes in enhancing global trade efficiency, reducing costs, and fostering digital trust on a large scale. 

This follows the introduction of the ICC Key Trade Documents and Data Elements (KTDDE) framework and UNECE’s UN/CEFACT Buy-Ship-Pay Reference Data Model and Trade Finance initiative.

The ICC KTDDE framework is designed to serve as a reliable single source for data, promoting alignment, security, and efficiency as data is transferred throughout the supply chain. The UN/CEFACT Buy-Ship-Pay Reference Data Model provides a comprehensive semantic data model that spans the full international supply chain from trade, transport, and regulatory viewpoints. 

Together, they facilitate the digitalisation of complete supply chains through standardised semantics, helping to craft a more efficient, cost-effective, and interoperable global trade ecosystem.

Pamela Mar, Managing Director of ICC DSI said, “The KTDDE framework has demonstrated notable results from collaborative efforts between standards organisations, intergovernmental bodies, and industry leaders.”

“This joint call to action is the next vital step. It is crucial for both the public and private sectors to commit to these standards to advance the digitalisation of supply chains,” she added.

The ICC KTDDE framework and the UN/CEFACT Buy-Ship-Pay Reference Data Model and Trade Finance initiative are beneficial for entities involved in producing, transporting, or selling goods globally and offer value to governments and regulatory bodies exploring trade digitalisation laws.

Tom Shinya, IUMI Executive Committee Member and Member of the DSI Industry Advisory Board said, “From an industry perspective, businesses can begin to see advantages by employing the KTDDE toolset.”

“At the same time, we need to collaborate closely to develop digital data standards for remaining documents, including cargo insurance, which are currently less developed digitally. Ongoing education and alignment are essential to promote the broad adoption of digital standards across all sectors and economies,” he added.

The call to action encourages all stakeholders in digital trade to collaborate to align and promote data interoperability, ensuring seamless data movement using core data elements as connectors. Stakeholders are invited to make their commitments known and report them to the UN/CEFACT Plenary starting in 2025 and every two years thereafter.

The commitments should concentrate on implementing measures such as:

  • creating policies favourable to digital trade and uniform regulations;
  • aligning legal systems; adopting globally interoperable standards for national border processes; 
  • aligning data definitions and cross-referencing common standards for global interoperability, among others.

Dmitry Mariyasin, Deputy Executive Secretary of UNECE said, “In the current inter-connected global economy, standardized digital trade processes are crucial to enhancing global trade efficiency, reducing costs, building digital trust, and ensuring seamless integration into global supply chains. This is particularly important for transition economies, which are still minimally integrated into global trade processes.”

“We are thrilled to announce several forthcoming projects that will expand upon the KTDDE framework,” announced Maria Teresa Pisani, Acting Chief of the Trade Facilitation Section at UNECE.

“These projects include updating the United Nations Trade Data Elements Directory (UNTDED) in cooperation with ISO and improving the Buy-Ship-Pay Data Exchange Structures for Trade Finance Facilitation. These initiatives are intended to further incorporate digital trade processes and make standards more effective for industry,” she added.

Over the years, UNECE, through various intergovernmental bodies, has been a leader in promoting the digitalisation of global trade processes.

UN/CEFACT has created approximately 950 e-business standards and guidelines, as well as nearly 50 global trade facilitation recommendations. These have provided standardised data models and frameworks to support efficient trade information exchange through tools like the Single Window Interoperability Framework and eCERT for electronic certification.