Slow, cumbersome, and expensive procedures are instrumental in increasing the costs of access to world markets, thus reducing export receipts and raising the costs of imports. By impeding the smooth flow of trade and efficient operation of the means of transport, unwieldy procedures and excessive paperwork contribute to the congestion of ports, warehouses and stacking areas. It is not unusual for customs or other formalities to require the unnecessary unloading and reloading of goods, thus increasing the risks of pilferage or damage attendant upon the goods being held without proper storage. The role of forwarding agencies that have representatives in the main overseas markets is underdeveloped, even though they could facilitate the speedy movement of goods; at the same time the capabilities of strictly local firms are limited. The effective result is a hidden inflationary tax which is eventually borne by the final consumer of the goods.
Costly and complicated procedures are also a serious obstacle to the expansion of trade, sometimes discouraging those capable of export from engaging in external trade at all. In the case of land-locked countries in particular, delays and added costs caused by unsuitable procedures contribute to their products lack of competitiveness in world markets. An integrative approach that takes into consideration all the administrative and commercial aspects of the matter within the framework of a facilitation programme aimed at minimizing formalities, simplifying and streamlining procedures, and harmonizing and standardizing documents, is absent.