Trade facilitation and postal services 

Trade facilitation concerns many segments of the postal network and supply chain – physical services, financial services, electronic services, customs, airlines, and security.

The UPU provides a legal, regulatory, and technical framework to support trade facilitation through the postal infrastructure.  The UPU also provides technical assistance and capacity building to countries in developing their trade capabilities.

The TradePost project

Trying to alleviate trade barriers that hinder the internationalization of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), is a key focus of governments, development agencies and United Nations agencies. Access to international markets via affordable and universally available logistics solutions remains inaccessible to many MSMEs, especially outside the urban areas. The posts in most countries can help provide greater openness to international trade, through a widespread geographic reach and diversified range of physical, financial and electronic services.

Expected outcomes
The UPU postal trade and SME inclusion programme aims at developing a simplified and harmonized export and import service for MSMEs utilizing the postal infrastructure.
  • To increase the number of small businesses in the country's portfolio of exporters
  • To create a simplified postal export process that can be easily and universally accessed by small businesses and corresponds to the characteristics of the country
  • To improve and modernize international trade processes through the postal channel with the institutions involved in the project
  • To diversify the range of products exported and increase the number of destination countries
  • To raise the profile of the postal sector as an important component of the trade economy

Main project components

The Postal trade programme
Diagnostic on country readiness for trade facilitation and ecommerce
Establishment of policies framework for postal trade exchange
Capacity buildingSolutions
  • Operational readiness for ecommerce
  • Include Posts in trade (NTFC, national trade policy
  • E-learning courses
  • Paperless Customs systems
  • Payment readiness for ecommerce
  • Seek synergies within Trade facilitation programmes (target same countries, sub-regions, resources mobilizations)
  • Training workshops on operational improvements and legal reforms
  • Online store for MSME
  • Digital readiness for ecommerce
  • Regional harmonization of postal trade policy

  • Integrated Index for Postal Development
  • Creation of postal trade facilitation corridors

  • Creation of national and regional Policies Framework for Cross-border Paperless Trade

  • Facilitate both export and import flows

Technical assistance

  • Establish a simplified postal export and import process
  • Establish an operational process for efficient and affordable trade 

Monitor tools

  • Integrated Index for Postal Development 
  • Indicators for measuring ecommerce (cross boarder trade, time in customs, time in delivery)

Diagnostic on country readiness for trade and ecommerce:

Set up a clear vision on the country’s capabilities for trade facilitation and postal readiness for ecommerce: 

Operational readiness for ecommerce (ORE)

  • The main aim of the ORE project is to enable the Posts to modernize their operational processes and use standardized IT tools and end-to-end systems to implement oper­ational solutions that meet the needs of e-commerce. 
  • The ORE project focuses on implementing a number of activities included in the country roadmap and action plan according to the five key pillars for the project, which are namely: minimum operational requirements, visibility, data quality, supply chain integration and reliability.
  • As part of the Electronic Advance (EAD) activities, the project focuses on raising awareness among participating members of the need to meet EAD requirements for paperless trade and to assist in building capacity to do so and on how to electronically capture CN 23 data in flow “0”, nesting in PREDES, and other upcoming EDI messaging requirements. 

 Payment readiness for ecommerce (PRE) 

  • The main aim of the PRE project is to nsure that MSME have suitable e-commerce payment infrastructure to develop their business through Posts. 
  • Enable Posts to create a payment gateway/platform via a suite of innovative UPU standards and IT tools.

 Digital readiness for ecommerce (DRE)

  • Assess the current state of digitalization of postal services and provide key recommendations on digital transformation of postal services to meet national policy goals.;
  • Assist Posts in providing digital services in partnership with other institutions;
  • Development of digital transformation conceptual frameworks and methodologies as well as knowledge sharing channels.

More information can be found in the UPU e-Commerce guide:  

The Integrated Index for Postal Development (2IPD)

The UPU's Integrated Index for Postal Development (2IPD) is a composite index providing an overview of postal development around the world. The basic input into this measurement consists of UPU data, including postal big data (with billions of records captured since 2013), official UPU statistics (more than 100 indicators), and key UPU surveys. 

The 2IPD offers a benchmark performance score (from 0 to 100) along four dimensions of postal development: reliability, reach, relevance and resilience. In addition to revealing the relative performance of postal operators around the world, the index sheds light on how to foster postal development and maximize the efficiency of postal infrastructure. This makes the 2IPD a unique tool for policymakers, regulators, postal operators and other sector stakeholders eager to understand the role that postal services can play in the era of e-commerce.

For more information on UPU's Integrated Index for Postal Development 

Supply chain capacity building and technical assistance

UPU capacity building and technical assistance aims to enhance enhancing human resource capacity to implement paperless trade as well as other trade solutions targeted at MSMEs. These activities are undertaken in close collaboration with the various actors in the global value chain, logistics and transport, payments, customs, security, e-commerce, EMS and parcels.

The aim is to build capacity in member countries to support SME inclusion and enhance SME exports via the postal network.



The Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide

 The Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide is a tool for simplifying cross-border trade.

 The Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide (TFIG) was developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), with contributions from its UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and with financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

 The UNECE Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide (TFIG) wants to assists implementers from the private and public sector managing the complexity of trade facilitation reforms. It is a tool to identify, examine, and select implementation tools and solutions.

 The TIFG is not an analysis tool to identify countries’ problems and needs. Whilst a needs assessment will reveal general or detailed reform needs, the TIFG supports the decision-making process by providing information for the understanding and evaluation of implementation options and paths.

 For more information on TFIG 

 The World Trade Organization 

 The Trade Facilitation Agreement Database

 The TFA Database website is managed by the WTO's Trade Facilitation Committee (TFC) team.  The TFC oversees the operation and implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and provides WTO Members with a forum to consult and share experiences.   

 The Trade Facilitation Agreement requires WTO Members to present a series of notifications, which form a crucial part of the Agreement's implementation architecture. In light of the significance of this information, Members requested a web tool that allows them to access, examine and analyze this complex set of data and to track the TFA implementation status, amongst other functions.

 Since its creation, this website has expanded in several areas and new tools were developed to follow the evolution of the Agreement and to respond to requests by WTO Members.

For more information on the TFA Database website 

The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility

The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF or the Facility) was created at the request of developing and least developed country (LDC) Members to help ensure that they receive the assistance they need to reap the full benefits of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, and to support the ultimate goal of full implementation of this new Agreement by all Members.

The TFAF will support Developing and LDC Members to assess their specific needs and to identify possible development partners to help them meet those needs through a diverse number of activities, including:

  • assisting Members in the preparation of their notification of special and differential treatment categories.  To this end, the TFAF will continue administering the needs assessment program;
  • the development and delivery of assistance and support for capacity building, with a view to ensuring that WTO Members fully understand the Agreement, the steps needed for its implementation, and the requirements to benefit from the special and differential treatment provisions.  To this end, it will make available training materials, case studies, and best practices;
  • supporting developing and LDC Members to access the available implementation assistance from regional and multilateral agencies, bilateral donors and other stakeholders that offer a broad range of different programs, with a view to ensuring:
  • the best possible conditions for the flow of information between donors and beneficiaries, thereby promoting optimal match-making;  
  • appropriate coordination among relevant assistance providers to discourage fragmentation and duplication in the delivery of implementation support.
  • that support is appropriately aligned to the identified needs, as well as to individual development, financial and trade needs of Members, and to differing levels of administrative and institutional capacity

For more information on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility 


Universal Postal Union

SME Growth and Trade Programme

Tel: +41 31 350 3111