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WCO

It forms the basis for Customs tariffs and statistical nomenclatures around the world and is used for around 98% of world trade.

he Harmonized System (HS) allows a world of many languages to speak with one. A multipurpose nomenclature for trade, the HS is one of the most successful instruments developed by the World Customs Organization. Its Convention has 156 Contracting Parties and the HS is used by more than 200 countries, territories and Customs or Economic Unions. It forms the basis for Customs tariffs and statistical nomenclatures around the world, and is used for around 98% of world trade. The year 2018 marks the 30thAnniversary of the HS which came into effect on 1stJanuary, 1988.

As an international standard with global application, the HS plays a key role in facilitating world trade. The HS is used as the basis for:

  • Customs tariffs;
  • Trade policies and quota controls;
  • Collection of international trade statistics and data exchange;
  • Rules of origin;
  • Trade negotiations such as the WTO Information Technology Agreement and Free Trade Agreements;
  • Monitoring of controlled goods, for example, chemical weapons precursors, hazardous wastes and persistent organic pollutants, ozone-depleting substances and endangered species;
  • Many Customs controls and procedures, including risk assessments and profiling, electronic data input and matching and compliance activities; and Economic research and analysis..

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WCO

The Harmonized System (HS) allows a world of many languages to speak with one. A multipurpose nomenclature for trade, the HS is one of the most successful instruments developed by the World Customs Organization. Its Convention has 156 Contracting Parties and the HS is used by more than 200 countries, territories and Customs or Economic Unions. It forms the basis for Customs tariffs and statistical nomenclatures around the world, and is used for around 98% of world trade. The year 2018 marks the 30thAnniversary of the HS which came into effect on 1stJanuary, 1988.

As an international standard with global application, the HS plays a key role in facilitating world trade. The HS is used as the basis for:

  • Customs tariffs;
  • Trade policies and quota controls;
  • Collection of international trade statistics and data exchange;
  • Rules of origin;
  • Trade negotiations such as the WTO Information Technology Agreement and Free Trade Agreements;
  • Monitoring of controlled goods, for example, chemical weapons precursors, hazardous wastes and persistent organic pollutants, ozone depleting substances and endangered species;
  • Many Customs controls and procedures, including risk assessments and profiling, electronic data input and matching and compliance activities; and Economic research and analysis..

The HS is crucial to the development of global trade. It is also fundamental to achieving fair, efficient, and effective revenue collection, a primary Strategic Goal of the WCO. In addition, as it provides an essential tool for the simplification and harmonization of customs procedures and provides the basis of knowing what trade goods are crossing borders, it contributes to other major strategic goals of Customs administrations and of the WCO.

The HS is a living language. We are now in the 6th edition of the HS and in the process of preparing the Seventh Edition of the HS (HS 2022). During the life of the HS, there have been 60 meetings of the Harmonized System Committee (HSC) where 4,144 agenda items were discussed, 10 Recommendations were produced concerning the application of the HS Convention, 2280 classification decisions made and 871 Classification Opinions adopted to ensure the harmonization of classification. On 1st of January 2018, Members can be congratulated on having worked through the 60 HSC meetings, 53 meetings of the Review Sub-Committee (RSC) and 32 meetings of the Scientific Sub-Committee (SSC) to maintain and update the HS to keep it responsive and relevant to current needs.

On the occasion of this anniversary, we call for the international Customs community, in partnership with the international trade community, to continue to be proactive and pursue its efforts to develop and maintain the HS, especially in terms of the application and uniform interpretation of the HS, so as to safeguard and further grow the benefits of this success.

We also invite all of you to celebrate with us, either in your own countries or here in Brussels.

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ECE

Have you ever asked yourself, ‘what does a trader try to achieve when trading globally beyond making a profit?’ To put it simply, traders want to supply goods that meet their customers’ needs, including their deadlines, as quickly as possible and with minimum cost. However, supplying the goods in time with a minimum cost is not as simple as it sounds. In a global trade transaction, there are national and international regulations or formalities that must be followed. These formalities include significant paperwork and cumbersome processes, which are often referred to as, ‘red tape’. Most of these formalities are carried out behind the border (domestically) or at the border. They include, for example, customs declarations, customs clearance, trading permits, certificates of origin, quality or inspection certifications, and so on. All these formalities require significant paperwork, many days to complete (not including transportation) and they come with a lot of ‘hidden’ costs. The OECD has estimated that simplifying these formalities could save between 2 to 15 percent of the value of goods traded.

What if all these formalities could be done in a few clicks and the lengthy formalities for export and import could be abandoned? Yes, this is a reality in some countries and could be a reality everywhere due to something called an Electronic Single Window system which is based on UNECE Recommendation No. 33. Globally, more than 70 country economies are using Single Window systems, as reported by the World Bank. Through this system, when completely implemented, all the information related to an export or import can be submitted in a single entry point. This means traders no longer need to go to multiple offices, obtain various paper permits and wait uncertainly to clear their goods. All these steps can be finished, at one time, through the Single Window and within a matter of hours (or, in some cases, minutes).

That is just one example of the type of “product” that UNECE offers to facilitate global trade. UNECE has been working to facilitate trade for more than four decades by bringing together a wide range of experts from countries around the globe in order to develop:

  • Recommendations and best case scenarios for cutting ‘red tape’ and simplifying trade rules
  • A common language (i.e. standards) for transactions and the exchange of trade data between countries
  • Guidelines to implement the recommendations and the standards.

To know more about these tools and instruments and how to use them, information free of charge is available at www.tfig.unece.org.

Source

WEF

At the age of 20, I aspired to be president; and at the age of 30, I was appointed to work in the office of the presidency of my country. A decade on, I developed a healthy respect and deep sense of humility about what it takes to successfully lead and fulfill expectations of all citizens in a poor developing African state. With 70% of Africans under the age of 30 – mostly poor unemployed and unemployable – I believe there is a dire need for a heightened sense of urgency in the face of growing global and regional political uncertainty.

Centuries ago, Africans were caught off guard by the advent of the First Industrial Revolution, which manifested itself in superior fighting and transport technology. Centuries later past the Scramble for Africa, wars of independence from colonialism, and half a century of struggle to attain economic independence, the continent is confronted with the rising challenge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. While the first revolution was dominated by land ownership and stretched over hundreds of years, the fourth revolution is primarily about knowledge ownership and is moving at the speed of light. This new challenge comes at a time when leaders are grappling with the reality of the failure of past growth to create jobs and reduce poverty and inequality.

Leaders around the continent are facing myriad challenges, ranging from investment downgrades and droughts exacerbated by climate change, to illegal migration and civil protests. More worryingly, the 2016 Ibrahim Index of African Governance highlighted that, among others, the rule of law has declined in over 30 countries since 2006.

The path to inclusive growth

In this context, the theme of the forthcoming World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban, South Africa, in May 2017 is Achieving Inclusive Growth through Responsive and Responsible Leadership. Building on global-oriented conversations at our Annual Meeting in Davos this year on Responsive and Responsible Leadership, we hope to expand the conversation on identifying new mechanisms to deliver inclusive growth and development with the regional and global leaders gathered in Durban.

In addition, there is a sense of urgency as more and more young people are turning to violence to express their frustration about lack of progress. Countries like Estonia have shown that it is possible to craft a national digital social order that delivers for all. Call to action: How are you leading change for the 70% under 30 years of age? Please join the #ShapingAfrica conversation and put your issue on the agenda in Durban.

Accordingly, below are three areas in which the continent’s leaders in Durban will explore how to grapple with these new challenges while addressing the inclusivity challenge by embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

1. Mobility-related technology is connecting the continent in unparalleled ways under land, overland and above land. Over 70% of Africans now have unprecedented access to mobile technology. This digital infrastructure offers new opportunities for the majority of poor Africans in rural and informal economies.

After Zipline’s successful launch of drone-delivered blood and medical supplies in Rwanda last year, it is increasingly evident that drones are revolutionizing the small cargo delivery supply chain.

And, with the launch of the Ethiopia-Djibouti train last October, Africa’s high-speed railway network is becoming a reality. Transnet is also leading the way with the first locally “designed, engineered and manufactured” train – the Trans African Locomotive – launching in April 2017.

This year, Africa is expected to launch the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The key objectives of the CFTA are to boost intra-African trade and investment by easing the movement of goods and people on the continent and to improve Africa’s competitiveness and economic growth by reducing the cost of doing business. Intra-African trade stands at about 15% of total volume, compared to 60% of intercontinental trade in the European Union, 53% in East Asia, 41% in North America and 20% in Latin America and the Caribbean. Achieving this milestone will start to make regional integration a reality. The next step will be to make it easier for Africans to travel within Africa without a visa.


Image: Rexparry sydney, CC BY-SA 3.0

2. Disruptions to manufacturing technology such as the internet of things and 3D printing are liberalizing access to technology and decentralizing production. At Gearbox in Kenya, makers from the informal industry, including jua kali artisans without formal engineering skills, are using 3D printing to manufacture quality products faster and cheaper. Elsewhere, technologists like David Sengeh, inspired by the plight of amputees in Sierra Leone, are harnessing artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop the next generation of prosthetic devices.

These developments notwithstanding, Africa still lags significantly behind the rest of the world in terms of manufacturing. According to the African Development Bank, the continent’s manufacturing exports doubled between 2005 and 2014 to more than $100 billion, with the share of intra-African trade rising from 20% to 34% over the same period. However, Africa’s share of global manufacturing exports remains less than 1%, compared with over 16% for East Asia.

3. Emerging African inventors are re-imagining solutions suited to the African context. It is estimated that, by 2050, over 700 million new housing units will be needed. This implies a radical rethink of what kinds of shelter to construct. Elijah Djan from South Africa is ahead of the curve with his invention of bricks made out of paper, essentially creating a sharing economy by finding a new use for waste. In order for African innovators to thrive, though, policy-makers need to provide a conducive intellectual property regime and make it easier to do business competitively.

For the continent to fully leverage opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, dramatic investments need to be made to ensure that Africans are equipped with the right skills for the future of jobs. For example, the overall shortage of engineers is estimated at 1 million. In addition, more efforts are required to reverse the widening gender digital divide.

When all is said and done, successful implementation will depend on Africans’ shared values and identity. True integration is a bottom-up cultural process, not a top-down political or technical process. Moreover, we cannot assume that we can work together if we do not deliberately build bridges across languages and borders, as well as actively prepare for intergenerational transitions between leaders. In Durban, home to the largest tribe in South Africa and largest diaspora of Indians outside of India, we will discuss how to build a shared understanding and nurture collective responsibility to navigate the transition from Africa 1.0 to Africa 4.0 while strengthening our united socio-cultural heritage.

As we look back to see forward, it is equally important to stop bad traditional practices. Madam Graça Machel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have been long-term advocates for Girls Not Brides, a global initiative to end child marriage. Recently, Global Shaper Rebeca Gyumi made history in Tanzania by managing to pass a landmark court ruling against child marriage. Leading change under 30 is possible.

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WBG

How to sum up 2017?

The global economy improved but there were plenty of unsettling and upsetting events and trends. Catastrophic storms and flooding wrecked homes and livelihoods from South Asia to the Caribbean. Education quality in many countries fell short even as much of the world raced into the digital age. Yet extreme poverty continues to decline. Innovation and technology are enhancing the quality of life. And human capital is now the biggest driver of wealth in the world today.

© World Bank
© World Bank

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UNCTAD

Egypt launched its new e-commerce strategy in the presence of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi this month during Cairo ICT 2017 – a trade fair for information and communications technology (ICT) organized in North Africa’s most populous city.

The Egyptian government expects the strategy – designed in close collaboration with UNCTAD during the past two years – to double by 2020 the number of businesses in the country selling products and services online. Less than 18% of big companies and just 3% of small businesses currently do so.

“Egypt aspires to harness the power of e-commerce to help catalyze innovation, growth and social prosperity in the digital economy; support and enhance trade; enable the development of new businesses and services; and increase people’s welfare,” Minister of Communications and Information Technology Yasser ElKady said.

“The strategy is a solid foundation for stimulating e-commerce growth in Egypt throughout the coming years,” Minister ElKady said. “I wish to express my appreciation for all the efforts and dedication by UNCTAD.”

The ancient nation has the potential to be one of the Arab-speaking world’s biggest e-commerce markets. Some 60% of the population is aged under 30 and increasingly tech savvy. And more than one-third of the country’s 90 million inhabitants is connected to the Internet.

Yet online commerce has struggled to take root on the banks of the Nile, where less than 3% of those connected to the web use it for shopping.

Part of the reluctance to do business over the Internet comes from entrenched social and cultural preferences for cash payments.

Along with strengthening Egyptians’ trust in online payments, which will require more effective e-commerce laws and regulations, UNCTAD’s analysis highlighted the need to roll out higher-speed broadband through the country.

Without a fast and reliable connection, businesses and customers will struggle to connect to e-commerce platforms and e-marketplaces, and companies will find it difficult to deliver digital services, such as data analytics and digital marketing.

And e-commerce won’t be able to take off unless Egypt strengthens logistics in the sector, especially in rural and remote areas. Even if more goods are purchased online, they still need to be delivered quickly and safely to people’s homes and businesses.

So the strategy aims to:

  • Improve the supply of high-speed broadband, especially in rural areas
  • Modernize Egypt’s postal authority
  • Bolster the legal and regulatory framework for e-commerce
  • Build trust in online payments
  • Strengthen training and apprenticeships in areas like online store management, digital marketing and data analytics
  • Encourage government employees to use e-procurement for low-value goods such as office supplies

While devising the strategy, UNCTAD and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology worked with the World Bank and other United Nations agencies, as well as Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Funding was provided by US multinational financial services corporation Mastercard.

As the UN focal point for the development aspects of science, technology and innovation, UNCTAD gives top priority to helping developing countries use ICTs to participate more effectively in the global economy, and ultimately improve the lives of their people.

In addition to national e-commerce strategies, UNCTAD helps developing countries to measure their readiness to take part in the digital economy and to assess the effectiveness of their ICT policies.

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