Paperless trade refers to the digitization of information flows required to support goods and services crossing borders. Transforming what was traditionally a paper-based documentation system into an electronic format can ease the cost of doing business in today’s interconnected world. However, paperless trading is not automatic, but instead requires sound governance structures and international collaboration to ensure systems interoperability. Governments can use a variety of arrangements, including United Nations agencies, standard-setting organizations and trade agreements to do so.
This white paper, co-published with the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and e-Business (UN/CEFACT), provides an overview of these efforts and guides inputs for future developments. It is part of a World Economic Forum public-private dialogue series on best practices in e-commerce policy as part of a broader digital trade programme. The inclusion of paperless trade in the series is both from the perspective of the digitalization of trade processes as well as the specific benefits this may have for small businesses using electronic platforms to engage in global trade.