UN/CEFACT Update: 34th UN/CEFACT Forum in London, England - API Conference Summary

Posted on: Dec 04, 2019

Since 2018, we have been continually reporting on our active participation in discussions hosted by the United Nations (UN) intergovernmental body dealing with global trade efficiency and the use of IT in the supply chain sector. The United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) was established by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and for decades has focused on the facilitation of national and international transactions through the simplification and harmonization of processes, procedures, and information flows, aiding the growth of global commerce. There are approximately 300 experts representing every region of the world contributing to UN/CEFACT projects, and we are excited to be a part of these discussions and share the latest information with our customers and partners.
 
Our VP, Rajiv Garg, has returned after attending the 34th UN/CEFACT Forum in London, England, hosted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In his position as Domain Coordinator of experts in international supply chain management, Rajiv presented and moderated other experts in application programming interfaces (API) conference labeled "Facilitating Data Exchange - The Role of Web APIs".
 
The purpose of this conference was to provide a non-technical audience with a sound understanding of how APIs work, where they are being used already, and what UN/CEFACT is doing about API standards. Specifically; this topic was an introduction to web APIs, examples of their use in the international supply chain, and finally UN/CEFACT's vision for how trade, transport, financial, and regulatory processes can work together as a distributed suite of web APIs.
 
The use of APIs to support international trade and transport processes is growing fast and there is an important role for UN/CEFACT standards to help ensure that APIs are consistently implemented across different service providers. A significant benefit of the use of web APIs is that it provides a source of information/data under a single umbrella, a shift away from hub-centric document exchange towards a more dynamic consumption of data from a distributed web of different locations. This in turn makes API much more simple, efficient, and agile compared to the other forms of electronic transmissions. Increased transparency and open communication for users/customers is another benefit of a single source of data.
 
The wide use of API in the transportation industry will not happen overnight. UN/CEFACT is currently in the process of researching and proposing the semantics and standards that could potentially be used in the API processes for cargo transportation. Another challenge is the data security and identity assurance components that will be important to the implementation of any API standards regardless of industry. Consequently, web APIs are not just a new technology for exchanging the same old documents - they are also disrupting established business models and bringing new business opportunities.
 
By taking part in UN/CEFACT we gain insight into evolving technologies and shape global standards that will help facilitate the supply chain and international trade. We will use this expertise to enhance our products and to keep our customers and subscribers current on industry trends. Vilden is thankful to be a part of this group of experts, and we are looking forward to our continued contribution to such forums in the future.
 
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about what was discussed at the forum, you are more than welcome to contact us anytime! We would be more than happy to brief you and provide details on these topics and more.