International Forum for NTF Committees (part 1/2)

About 300 delegates from all over the world braved the frosty outdoor temperatures in Geneva in late January to attend the first International Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees at the United Nations. Myself, Dr. Sangeeta Mohanty, had the good fortune of representing Cross-border Research Association at this memorable event.


This one-week event was organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in cooperation with the International Trade Centre (ITC), the World Bank Group (WBG), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The objective of the Forum was to empower the leaders of National Trade Facilitation Committees and provide opportunities for developing and Least Developed Countries to access funding for the establishment and sustainability of such crucial committees.

With just two ratifications to go for the entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, the debate was held at an opportune moment for many developing countries to support their continued efforts towards establishing fully operational National Trade Facilitation Committees, (NTFCs), that is mandated by the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

The first two days of the meeting focussed on understanding the WTO TFA, the technical assistance available from a range of institutions for the implementation of Trade Facilitation reforms, challenges encountered in setting up NTFCs, Trade Facilitation efforts on a regional perspective and establishing coordination mechanisms between national and regional Trade Facilitation committees.

The main session started off with a lucid presentation by the WTO representative on the most relevant articles of the TFA, the status of ratification, categorisation and notifications and the way forward after the entry into force of the Agreement. Speakers from major international organisations including UNCTAD, ITC, WBG, WCO, WTO, UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) and AfDB (African Development Bank) elaborated on their specific programmes to support national governments in establishing or improving the effectiveness of NTFCs. Trade Facilitation (TF) support at UNCTAD is based on three pillars: Research, Technical assistance and capacity building, and Consensus building. ITC sets out to support the TFA implementation purely from the business perspective with a dedicated focus on small and medium sized enterprises and stimulating public-private dialogue in policy making. The WBG is dedicated to providing technical assistance for developing countries in reforming and aligning their TF laws, procedures, processes and systems to enable implementation of the WTO TFA requirements through its Trade Facilitation Support program. The WCO has launched the Mercator programme that seeks to ensure the uniform implementation of the TFA in the area of Customs, using the WCO instruments and tools. WTO drives the Enhanced Integrated Framework, a multi-donor programme, supporting Least Developed Countries to play a more active role in the global trading system. The AfDB targets regional infrastructure development and industrialisation of trade. And finally, UNIDO provides technical assistance support programmes with a focus on mutually recognising standards. The natural sequel to the above dialogue was the panel discussion around bilateral aid provided by the European Commission and national governmental offices from the United Kingdom, Germany and Finland, which in some cases operate in partnership with other organisations.

The next panel proffered some general policy recommendations to resolve operational, regulatory and procedural challenges faced by NTFCs across the world. One key recommendation was to include the private sector in decision making and financing.  Academia and civil society participation was also recommended. Governments are advised to include the right mix of regulators and other actors in NTFCs. The panel members highlighted the need for facilitating inter-agency collaboration and to provide national directives for TF measures. Establishing legally established work plans for NTFCs on the strategic, operational and technical levels was considered absolutely essential. The gradual simplification of procedures was also considered fundamental to TF reforms.

The following panel discussions centred on the role of regional organisations in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean along with the bottlenecks affecting the implementation of TF reforms.

Parallels were drawn between the African and Latin American context where regional integration is largely missing. The main challenges appear to be limited human and financial resources, different priorities among members and agencies, duplication of efforts across existing agencies, weak monitoring and evaluation process, private sector exclusion from decision-making, limited coordination of NTFCs at regional and sub-regional levels, the different mandates and goals of NTFCs, and vested interests of different parties. Panellists recommended a variety of solutions, such as empowering regional committees with the capacity to coordinate, mobilising of resources, harmonising and standardising procedures, aligning facilitation and compliance, enhancing regional competitiveness, and ensuring public-private cooperation. Good practice examples of successful regional integration strategies were put forth in the final round of discussion by top-level experts from the WBG, WCO, the Swedish Permanent Mission in Brussels, Secretariat of the Central American Integration System, NTFC Kenya and the East African Community.

Overall, the integration of trade is considered vitally important to integration in the two regions and private sector engagement appears to be an essential part of dialogue and coordination. Long term strategy planning for NTFCs is advocated. The lively debate on the challenges and complexities around TF set the tone for the subsequent discussions in the next three days regarding important activities involved in establishing NTFCs to help make the vision of the TFA a reality.

Part 1 of 2 of the CBRA NTFC-Blog by Dr. Sangeeta Mohanty.

New Security Guidelines for the European Road Freight Transport Sector

The European Commission DG MOVE contracts Cross-border Research Association and TAPA EMEA to develop a security toolkit for fighting crime and terrorism on European roads. 


The European trucking sector faces many security threats today. While cargo theft continues to be a multi-billion-euro problem for the European transport sector, irregular migration poses another major security risk to international trucking operations: growing numbers of migrants are boarding trucks clandestinely to cross borders. The most alarming trend in the European road transport sector is terrorism. Terrorists have turned heavy vehicles into weapons by hijacking and driving them into crowds, as demonstrated in recent Nice and Berlin attacks.

To address these risks, Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission, DG MOVE, has recently commissioned Cross-border Research Association, CBRA of Switzerland and TAPA EMEA to develop a new security toolkit for the European Road Freight Transport Sector. This new toolkit provides clear operational guidance that will help European truck drivers, haulage companies and other key stakeholders to address cargo theft, robberies, irregular migration, and terrorism on European roads. This project titled “ROADSEC” will be completed by end of July 2017.

The new toolkit complements and builds on existing security guidance and standards that TAPA EMEA and other European and national organizations have published over the past years. The new toolkit updates and upgrades contemporary good security practices that are rapidly becoming outdated amid constantly evolving risk landscape, emerging technologies, and regulatory changes. The toolkit also provides clear and commonsense guidance that is designed to reach and resonate with the down-to-earth audience of truck drivers. “The project does not only summarize good practices on how to secure freight on wheels,” Dr. Juha Hintsa, the founder and director of Cross-border Research Association, highlights. “It also seeks to build security awareness and culture across the entire community of several millions truck drivers who transport goods in Europe.”

The toolkit’s primary audience are the truck drivers who are on the frontline in the combat against crime and terrorism in the road transport sector. Nevertheless, the toolkit also encompasses more general security guidance for a broader audience of road transport stakeholders, including fleet managers, cargo owners, and police and customs authorities. “The guidance covers key themes like driver security & safety, incident reporting, secure parking, and hand-over practicalities – among several other topics, to be discovered and detailed during the next 1-2 months”, explains Mr. Juha Ahokas from CBRA’s office in Finland.

Since the project’s start in early January 2017, the project team has been busy collecting existing guidebooks, policies, standards and other relevant documents that could be used to produce the new security toolkit for the European road transport sector. “We want to study all available materials – European and national – so that we can produce the best possible synthesis of security practices for protecting people, cargo, and trucks from crime and terrorism,” Dr. Toni Männistö, a senior researcher of CBRA, says.

So far the project team has been in contact with the International Road Transport Union (IRU), European Shippers’ Council (ESC), European Traffic Police Network (TISPOL), European Organisation for Forwarding and Logistics (CLECAT), United Nation’s Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), PostEurop, and European Commission DG TAXUD. Later in spring, to collect further views of logistics security key experts, the project organizes a workshop as part of TAPA EMEA Conference in Milano, on 15-16 March 2017. In addition, we intend to discuss with individual transport companies, truck manufacturers and the insurance sector, in order to discover all possible inputs for the upcoming guidebook.


Do you want to share your insights or learn more about the study? Please email to, or, call +41-76-5890967

Three new Senior Experts

We have the pleasure to announce that the following three top experts in illicit trade and maritime security have recently joined the CBRA’s Consulting Team, as Senior Consultants: Ms. Vittoria Luda di Cortemiglia, Mr. Michael Ellis and Mr. Lars W Lorenzen. We work closely with them in monitoring new calls and preparing project proposals – and, once new projects are funded, they play a key role in executing the actual research, consulting and training work. In the meanwhile, each one of them carries out other “non-CBRA professional activities”. In today’s CBRA Blog we introduce all the three of them, by sharing their short bios below. Please do not hesitate to contact us in case you see interesting joint project opportunities in the future! Have a great weekend everyone, Juha.

Ms. Vittoria Luda di Cortemiglia, Senior Consultant, Illicit Trade and Human Trafficking, Italy

Ms. Luda di Cortemiglia is a senior researcher and consultant with extensive experience on various criminal justice and supply chain security issues at international level. Experience specifically includes applied research and analysis as well as project management and training for professionals, in the field of illicit trafficking and supply chain security, including trafficking in persons, trafficking in counterfeit products, illicit trade in precious metals, illegal waste trade and eco-crimes, cybercrime and misuse of technologies. After graduating in Law at the University of Turin, Italy, 1999, Ms. Luda di Cortemiglia obtained a Master degree in International Relationships and Diplomacy at St. John’s University, New York, USA, in 2001, joining the United Nations in October 2001. Until September 2016 she has coordinated the programs and activities of the Emerging Crimes Unit at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). She has acted as UNICRI Focal Point for the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network (PNI), and from 2009 until 2016 she represented UNICRI within the United Nations Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Human Trafficking (UN-ICAT).

Mr. Michael Ellis, Senior Consultant, Illicit Trade in Global Supply Chains, United Kingdom

Mr. Ellis has nearly 40 years of experience in law enforcement, coming from an operational policing background. He served with the London Metropolitan Police fighting against serious international and organised crime for 20 years, He was then engaged in the corporate security function in multinational firms, dealing with anti-counterfeit and illicit trade issues on a global basis for a further 16 years. Michael was with Universal Music, with IFPI, the music industry’s trade association, and with Beiersdorf. Most recently he was the Assistant Director of Police Services at INTERPOL and the Head of the INTERPOL Program on Traffic in Illicit Goods and Counterfeit. Michael was responsible for managing and coordinating INTERPOL’s global strategy to fight against this criminal activity, and he lead the police organisations international efforts in this area. Michael has a Master’s degree in Social Science, where he specifically researched the extensive links between organised crime and illicit trade and counterfeiting. Michael joined CBRAs consulting team on 1 October, 2016, as a Senior Consultant. He will be involved in various projects related to illicit trade and counterfeit goods in global supply chains.

Mr. Lars W Lorenzen, Senior Consultant, Maritime and Port Security, Denmark

Mr. Lorenzen has had a career with the Maersk Group spanning 37 years within a number of business units, notably within container transportation in the broadest sense. His particular knowledge and expertise covers the operational, equipment management, security, safety, standardization and regulatory sphere. He has been leading the Maersk Group work in obtaining and maintaining US C-TPAT and EU AEO-F supply chain security certifications and validations since the inception of both initiatives, while engaging with customers in shaping their profiles. As part of his security tasks, Lars has built and maintained a security response programme for the Maersk Line organisation, being also the focal point and first responder to security breaches. For a period, he was a member of the WCO PSCG (World Customs Organization Private Sector Consultative Group). During the past 20+ years he has been an appointed national expert in standardization work, mainly within ISO TC104 and TC204, including leadership of working groups – while heading the Danish delegation. Lars has served as a civil expert to NATO and other military initiatives by appointment of the Danish Government for the past 12 years, providing commercial views and factual information relating to logistics, and in the course of this participated in developing and conducting table top and other exercises.