References for Legal Readiness Assessment Guide

This section provides a list of resources relevant for paperless trade facilitation that may be useful to further explore the various matters raised in the Legal Guide of the Readiness Assessment Guide for Cross-Border Paperless Trade. They are divided according to their source. 

United Nations system organizations


The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has prepared several legal and technical documents on issues related to paperless trade facilitation, often in cooperation with other organizations and with the assistance of experts. 

Documents predating the work on the preparation of the  Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific include those prepared with the support of the United Nations Network of Experts for Paperless Trade and Transport in Asia and the Pacific (UNNExT), namely the Electronic Single Window Legal Issues: A Capacity-Building Guide, UN Doc ST/ESCAP/2636 (2012). That Guide discusses several issues raised in the online guide. UNNExT publishes also Policy Briefs that illustrate country case studies on implementation of paperless trade or explain specific matters relevant for paperless trade facilitation.

The official documents relating to the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, namely the  Resolution 72/4 of 2016 and the official text of the Framework Agreement (UN Doc E/ESCAP/RES/72/4, May 2016) are available in the dedicated webpage.

A number of resources, including the Readiness Assessment Guide for Cross-Border Paperless Trade, have been prepared by ESCAP under the guidance of the Interim Intergovernmental Steering Group on Cross-border Paperless Trade Facilitation in order to facilitate and support the entry into force of the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific and its early implementation. Those resources include Cross-Border Paperless Trade: A Legal Readiness Checklist (2019), the Readiness Assessment for Cross-Border Paperless Trade, the Cross-Border Paperless Trade Database, the draft paper on Mechanism for Cross-Border Mutual Recognition of Trade-Related Data and Documents in Electronic Form (2019) and the paper on References to International Legal Frameworks and Best Practices Relevant to Cross-Border Paperless Trade (2018).



The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) is a body of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) that serves as United Nations focal point for trade facilitation recommendations and electronic business standards. It has produced a number of recommendations relevant for paperless trade facilitation, which are available at this webpage of the UN/CEFACT website. Among these recommendations, Recommendation No. 35 – Establishing a Legal Framework for International Trade Single Window (UN Doc. ECE/TRADE/401 (2010)) and the addendum to Recommendation No. 14 –  Authentication of Trade Documents: Repository of Legally Enabling Environment (UN Doc. ECE/TRADE/C/CEFACT/2014/6/Add.1 (2014)) discuss legal issues.

Other recommendations particularly relevant for paperless trade facilitation include Recommendation No. 33 –  Single Window (UN Doc. ECE/TRADE/352/Rev.1 (2020), complemented by a Single Window Repository containing case studies, Recommendation No. 36 – Single Window Interoperability (UN Doc. ECE/TRADE/431 (2017)) and Recommendation No. 37 – Single Submission Portals (UN Doc. ECE/TRADE/C/CEFACT/2019/6 (2019)), complemented by a Single Submission Portal Repository containing case studies.



The website of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) makes available in the six official languages of the United Nations text, explanatory notes and travaux préparatoires, status of adoption and other information on each UNCITRAL text.

The UNCITRAL texts cited in this online checklist in the field of electronic commerce and the digital economy are the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts, 2005, the  Model Law on Electronic Commerce, 1996, the Model Law on Electronic Signatures, 2001 and the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records, 2017, and the guidance documents Promoting Confidence in Electronic Commerce: Legal Issues on International Use of Electronic Authentication and Signature Methods and Notes on the Main Issues of Cloud Computing Contracts.

The UNCITRAL texts cited in this online checklist in the field of international commercial arbitration are the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration 1985 (amended in 2006), and the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Award 1958.



Trade facilitation is an important component of the mandate of the World Customs Organization (WCO). Accordingly, the WCO has developed a number of instruments and other tools, including training and capacity-building resources. An overview of those tools is available at this webpage of the WCO website. Among the WCO legal instruments, the revised Kyoto Convention is particularly prominent. The WCO Single Window Compendium “Building a Single Window Environment” provides a broad introduction to the topic; one module (part VII, vol. 1) deals with selected legal issues.



The World Trade Organization (WTO) has prepared several legal texts that provide the foundation of global trade.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement (2014) is particularly relevant for paperless trade and has been adopted by a large number of countries. The Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility website offers a wealth of dedicated resources. The Facility may also provide technical assistance and grants to promote paperless trade facilitation.


Other Inter-Governmental Organizations 


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is promoting the ASEAN Single Window, a regional initiative that connects and integrates National Single Window of ASEAN Member States. The ASEAN Single Window allows the implementation of ASEAN trade agreements such as the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement, for instance by allowing the exchange of certificates of origin in electronic form (ATIGA e-Form D). The ASEAN Single Window was established pursuant to a dedicated Agreement to Establish and Implement ASEAN Single Window (2005) and a number of protocols, among which the Protocol on the Legal Framework to Implement the ASEAN Single Window may be of particular interest as it legally enables cross-border data exchanges among national single windows.



The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has carried out work in support of the digital economy. Its work on privacy may be useful both to establish a domestic privacy regime and to set common cross-border rules. See, e.g., the Privacy Framework (2015. APEC is also conducting work on customs procedures that is directly relevant for paperless trade facilitation.



In its efforts to promote regional economic integration in Europe, the European Union (EU) has prepared legal texts that may be a useful reference. Those texts include the Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (GDPR) and the Regulation (EU) No. 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on Electronic Identification and Trust services for Electronic Transactions in the Internal Market and Repealing Directive 1999/93/EC (eIDAS).



The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has prepared guidance and policy documents that have influenced legal developments. These document include the Recommendation on Electronic Authentication and OECD Guidance for Electronic Authentication (2007) and the OECD, Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data (2013).


The following documents are referred in the Legal Guide:


National Laws

References to national laws are provided for illustrative purposes only. They do not aim to illustrate how any specific law operates. Reference to legislation is current as of June 2020 or as otherwise indicated.

Many jurisdictions provide authoritative central repositories of legislation. Among the jurisdictions cited in this online guide, this is the case, of instance, of Australia (Legislation Register), New Zealand (New Zealand Legislation)  and Singapore (Singapore Statutes Online)

The Korean Law Translation Center makes available a number of unofficial English-language translations of statutes of the Republic of Korea.