In the past few decades, rapid advancements in information and communication technologies (ICT) have radically transformed the world. It is difficult to find an area of the society and economy, whether commercial or non-commercial, that has not been touched upon by the ICT revolution. An important development of the ICT revolution has been in the area of digitalization. Going digital has become the most important priority today given the various advantages of digitalization such as reduction in cost and time, accessibility of people to services that were earlier out of reach due to geographical or other constraints, transparency, and good governance, and so on. Digitalization in the area of trade facilitation is also being promoted by various multilateral and regional organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). Several countries, mainly the advanced ones, have made most trade facilitation processes paperless as far as practicable.
The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) is the only multilateral agreement on trade facilitation. It entered into force on 22 February 2017. The TFA covers all the important aspects of trade facilitation and cooperation among WTO members. Among other things, it emphasizes electronic means of communications and transactions for trade facilitation, such as advance lodging of documents in electronic format for pre- arrival processing; electronic payment of duties, taxes, fees, and charges at customs; and establishment of single window and use of ICT to operate the single window as far as practicable. Nepal accepted the WTO TFA on 24 January 2017.
Similarly, several organizations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and UNESCAP, among others, have been promoting paperless trade and providing technical and other required support to many countries for its adoption