The Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide:

A tool for simplifying cross-border trade


Trade facilitation creates a reliable, fast and cost-effective trade environment that benefits all countries and businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It’s a collaborative effort by governments and traders to cut the costs of doing trade, reduce delays at borders, and make public agencies dealing with trade more efficient. Multiple information requests and document formalities are managed better and trade rules made more transparent, whilst procedures are simplified and redundancies eliminated.

How the Guide can help

If you are implementing trade-facilitation reform, whether you come from the public or private sector, the Guide will help you identify, examine and select available solutions and possible paths for your policy objectives. It does so by introducing trade facilitation and its benefits, and the main steps that need to be taken to put it into place. It presents a variety of concepts, standards and recommendations that can simplify trade throughout the international supply chain, and sets out implementation approaches and methodologies. The available instruments for applying the facilitation measures under discussion at the World Trade Organization are also introduced.

A web-based tool

The Guide is a publicly available web-based interactive tool. Through multiple entry points and cross-links you can navigate different areas and instruments — at various levels of information and detail. Navigation paths help you explore the linkages and dependencies between issues and solutions. The Guide therefore gives you a holistic rather than a sectorial or organizational approach.

Using the Guide

The Guide is a collection of self-contained “virtual documents” organized in a structured set of trade-facilitation domains, itineraries, instruments and organizations. These are the entry points to the contents of the Guide, which you can access according to your needs and objectives. A free search tool allows you to find specific information.


Offer a supply-chain perspective on trade facilitation. These areas take inspiration from the UN/CEFACT Buy-Ship-Pay model. The steps and processes of the model correspond to the business domains of purchasing and payment, shipping and transport, and Customs and cross-border management. For each domain, the Guide presents key challenges as well as possible reform measures and appropriate solutions and instruments. It introduces business process analysis, trade-government consultation and cooperation, and e-business solutions as approaches and methodologies that underpin trade-facilitation efforts.


Help you explore questions such as:

  • How to reduce delays at border crossings?
  • Why and how is the World Trade Organization discussing trade facilitation?
  • How to reduce the number of documents and amount of information requested at border crossings?
  • What steps need to be taken for establishing a Single Window?
  • How to create a trusted partnership with trade?
  • What are the ICT applications for trade facilitation?

In these itineraries, pages from various domains are conveniently grouped together and you are guided through them.


Provide information on a particular convention, guideline or another instrument such as a UNECE Recommendation. Here you will find a list of key trade-facilitation measures. With just one click, you can obtain more details about a specific instrument, as well as links to other pages that refer to it.


Introduce key inter-governmental organizations that work in the field of trade facilitation — by setting rules and standards, providing technical assistance, or by doing research. It gives an overview of who the organizations are and what they do.

Complementary materials

A Train the Trainers package and a set of Case Stories on trade-facilitation efforts around the world complement the Guide.

About the Guide

It was developed by the United Nations Commission for Europe (UNECE), with contributions from its UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), and financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida. A large team of high-level experts from different technical areas and parts of the world were involved in its preparation.

UNECE improves the quality of everyday life and facilitates business through practical and innovative solutions and standards. We deal with a broad range of issues from clean air and energy – through safer transport and trade facilitation – to sustainable housing and management of forests. As part of the United Nations and building on over 60 years of experience, we look into the future to promote stronger and greener economies in our region and beyond.

Download the brochure here