Estimating the Benefits of Cross-Border Paperless Trade

24 June 2014

This report estimates the possible economic benefits—export gains, and cost savings—from partial or full implementation of cross-border paperless trade facilitation measures. Simulation results suggest that cross-border paperless trade has significant potential to reduce trade costs and boost trade in the Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, there is every reason to believe that these are low-end estimates of the possible economic gains from reform, due to the way in which the simulations are set up on a technical level, and the fact that they focus on implementation of cross-border measures only. In reality, paperless trade is typically implemented on a broader basis, which would tend to increase the level of export gains and cost savings reported here.

One key policy message to emerge from this report is that “new generation” trade facilitation measures, like cross-border paperless trade, have just as much potential as more traditional measures to reduce trade costs and increase intra- and extra-regional trade. The gains from comprehensive trade facilitation reform have not yet been reaped: even strong performers have areas in which improvements can be made, and weaker performers need to make progress on a broad front to catch up with the rest of the region, and improve their trade integration.