Trade facilitation and supply chains in the Arab region in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia

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Trade facilitation and supply chains in the Arab region in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic

ESCWA Publication: E/ESCWA/CL3.SEP/2020/TP.24


Country: Arab region

Publication Type: Information material

Cluster: Shared Economic Prosperity

Focus Area: Trade & regional connectivity

Initiatives: Transport and trade connectivity

SDGs: Agenda 2030

Keywords: Trade facilitation, Covid-19, Arab countries, Logistics, Trade agreements

Trade facilitation and supply chains in the Arab region in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic

December 2022

The paper examines how Arab States have adapted their transport logistics processes to address challenges imposed by the pandemic and provides insights on how these can be built upon to consolidate and expand connectivity with regional and global value chains to reap social, environmental and economic benefits.

On one hand, the paper analyses short term country responses in balancing out the timely provision of critical goods, such as medicine and food, with tightened sanitary control measures by expediting customs clearance processes. On the other hand, the longer-term approaches were considered in line with the “Build Back Better” better principle endorsed by the United Nations Secretary General. Despite exposing vulnerabilities in global value chains, the pandemic has nevertheless resulted in structural shifts in the production, distribution and trade landscape which are aimed towards less geographically concentrated manufacturing and trading systems for improved resilience against unexpected events. The current paradigm shift presents a valuable opportunity for Arab States, which are favourably positioned from a geographical and historical perspective, to improve engagement in regional and global value chains, since they are well prepared for it. Proposed avenues for more effective engagement include the institutionalization of trade facilitation measures deployed in response to the global pandemic, consolidation of Arab regional trading networks, and better connectivity with neighbouring networks, among others. The timeliness for greening trade processes is also emphasized notably by harmonizing national sectoral policies and environmental guidelines with global environmental, health and safety standards.

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