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Islamic countries share their experiences of trade digitization

At the invitation of the Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT), the trade body of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), based in Casablanca, Morocco, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya spoke as a panellist during a webinar on “The Impact of Digitization of Trade Procedures in Facilitating Intra-OIC Trade and Mitigating Post Covid-19 Effects” held on 6 July 2020.

The objective of the webinar was to highlight the importance of digitization, following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the expansion of electronic commerce (e-commerce), electronic data interchange (EDI) and teleworking services.

Secretary General Mikuriya spoke about digitization of trade and the importance of a Single Window (SW), connecting government agencies and economic operators in the facilitation of trade. He underscored the importance of technology and international standards, such as the WCO Data Model, and the need to make use of the best practices set out in relevant WCO Compendiums when initiating digitization processes.

Dr. Mikuriya went on to describe the WCO’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic aimed at promoting social distancing in trade, including facilitation of paperless trade and enhanced coordinated border management (CBM) as well as guidance on a range of matters such as expeditious clearance of “essential goods”. He noted the phenomenon of increased use of e-commerce during the crisis and highlighted the WCO’s work concerning the Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce.

The other panellists, representing Customs and business associations from Morocco (Africa-Arab trade), Senegal (West and Central Africa), Mozambique (East and Southern Africa) and Oman (Gulf region), shared their experiences of strengthening trade connectivity through digitization and SWs. During the question and answer session, the panellists expressed their views on the challenges of digitization in the Africa and Arab regions as well as on ways to secure digital payments. The moderator of the webinar, representing the Moroccan Association of Exporters (ASMEX), summed up the discussions by stating that it was important to convert challenges into opportunities through the use of technology, political leadership, international cooperation and the adoption of international standards.

The webinar concluded by stressing the need for cooperation on digitization, in order to promote intra-OIC trade among its 57 Member States.

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