WTO Members Take Important Steps Towards Trade Facilitation Agreement in Nairobi
The World trade Organization’s 10th Ministerial Conference which took place last month in Nairobi, Kenya, yielded important progress toward the entry into force and implementation of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), according to information released by the Office of the U.S. trade Representative.
Six new acceptances of the agreement were received in Nairobi, including from two least-developed countries (LDCs), bringing the total to 63 WTO members who have ratified the TFA. Other acceptances are expected shortly.
“The diversity of members who have submitted these 63 acceptances demonstrates the global interest in this agreement,” said the USTR. “The 63 acceptances come from members representing every region of the world, 28 of whom are developing countries, including five LDCs.”
The United States announced during the Ministerial Conference additional funding to help developing countries implement the TFA through a multi-donor partnership with the private sector called the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (GATF).
To fulfill their commitment in the TFA to help developing countries and LDCs implement the agreement, the U.S., together with Australia, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom, pursued a new approach to trade assistance, bringing together donor countries, global businesses, and international institutions, such as the World Economic Forum, the International Chamber of Commerce and the Center for International Private Enterprise, to help developing countries implement TFA reforms. The U.S. has mobilized $50 million for the initiative over five years. Based on contributions identified so far, the GATF is the largest pool of resources dedicated to TFA implementation.
Adopted at the WTO’s 2013 Ministerial Conference in Bali, the TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO’s membership, 108 members, has accepted the agreement.
Full implementation of the TFA has the potential to reduce global trade costs by an average of 14.3 percent, according to the USTR. According to the WTO’s recent World Trade Report, the developing country export gains could range as high as $1.8 trillion.