Contents on this page

  • WTO Members welcome entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement
  • APEC leaders welcome the entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement
  • WTO: Entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement
  • EU welcomes entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement
  • B20 Statement on entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement

  • SBF applauds the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement coming into force
  • USCC: Trade facilitation pact ratification a boost for US economy
  • BDI: Correct answer to US foreclosure
  • CNI: 6 priorities in the trade facilitation agenda, in the view of industry

February 28, 2017

WTO Members welcome entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement

WTO Members hailed the entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) as a historic achievement at a meeting of the General Council on February 27, 2017. In welcoming this milestone, members pledged to advance work on implementing the TFA so that the full benefits of the Agreement can be reaped.

The TFA, the first multilateral deal concluded in the 21 year history of the WTO, entered into force on February 22, 2017 after the organization obtained the needed acceptance from two-thirds of its 164 members for the agreement to take effect.

In his address to WTO Members, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said:

“By ratifying the agreement, Members have shown their commitment to the multilateral trading system. You have followed through on the promises made when this deal was struck in Bali. And by bringing the deal into force we can now begin the work of turning its benefits into reality.”

DG Azevêdo also thanked the members for their considerable efforts to reach this historic juncture. “This achievement belongs to all of you,” he said.

The Director-General, in his capacity as depositary of the WTO Agreements and their amendments, signed the official depositary notification of the TFA’s entry into force. He handed over the notification to General Council Chair Ambassador Harald Neple (Norway) at the meeting.

The Agreement on Trade Facilitation is a defining multilateral achievement of our time,” Ambassador Neple said. “It is practical, modern and global and it symbolizes the essence of the WTO: members from all corners of the globe coming together, overcoming differences and responding to pressing trade issues for the benefit of all,” he said.

The chair called on members who have not yet ratified the TFA to do so soon and to deposit their instruments of acceptance. All members, the chair added, must work together to fully implement the Agreement.

All delegations taking the floor at the meeting—representing developed, developing and least-developed countries (LDCs)—welcomed the TFA’s entry into force.

Cambodia, speaking on behalf of the least-developed countries (LDC) group, said the milestone marked a very important start to members’ work to achieve results in trade facilitation. Cambodia, along with several other delegations, emphasized the need of developing countries and LDCs for implementation assistance.

Several delegations meanwhile echoed the chair’s call for the remaining members to ratify the TFA while also offering their support for capacity building for the Agreement’s implementation.

Many also remarked that the TFA’s entry into force demonstrated Members’ collaboration across various levels of development and could serve as a model for more WTO agreements in the future.

The Agreement is unique in that it allows developing and least-developed countries to set their own timetables for implementing the TFA depending on their capacities to do so – and it provides for support to help them develop their capacity. The Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) was created at the request of developing and least-developed countries to help ensure they receive the assistance needed to reap the full benefits of the TFA and to support the ultimate goal of full implementation of the new agreement by all members. The TFA further provides for the establishment of a Committee on Trade Facilitation to periodically review the Agreement’s operation and implementation.

The TFA has a huge potential to reduce trade costs thereby boosting trade between countries and raising world income. OECD studies find that the implementation of the TFA could reduce worldwide trade costs between 12.5 per cent and 17.5 per cent.  Developing country exports are expected to grow between 14 per cent and 22 per cent while becoming more diversified.  Companies are more likely to become more profitable which should encourage domestic investment.  In addition, foreign direct investment is likely to be attracted to countries that fully implement the TFA.  Finally, increased trade means better employment prospects for workers and greater revenue collection by the government.

Source: WTO (TFAF)


February 23, 2017

Asia-Pacific business leaders welcome the entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

A new global agreement designed to help trade flow more freely will lower costs for business and help to raise living standards across the Asia-Pacific region, business leaders meeting in Bangkok for the APEC Business Advisory Council said.

“The global economy has been through a tough period.  Trade growth continues to slow,” said ABAC Chair for 2017, Mr Hoang Van Dung of Vietnam.   “It is critical that we take action wherever we can to remove the grit from the machinery of trade, keep markets open and competitive, and deepen connections. So this new agreement is extremely welcome.”

Mr Hoang was speaking about the entry into force of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).   The Agreement was concluded by WTO Members at the Bali WTO Ministerial Meeting in 2013.   Two-thirds of the WTO Membership must ratify the TFA before it can begin to be implemented. That threshold has just been reached.

“The TFA has been a long time coming.  We are excited that it can now be implemented – and we urge those who have not yet ratified it to do so quickly.”

“As business people, of course, we welcome anything that makes trade easier and less costly.  Consumers will also benefit from cheaper, more diverse and better goods.  But more importantly, the TFA should help to unlock opportunities for our communities,” said Mr. Hoang.

“Inclusive and sustainable growth is central to our vision for the APEC region.  The TFA will help small as well as large firms, and those from developing economies, to participate more successfully in global markets, by reducing red tape, costs and technical barriers to trade.”

WTO analysis suggests that the TFA will deliver substantial benefits: over the next 15 years, the implementation of the TFA is predicted to add around 2.7 per cent per year to world export growth, and more than half a percent per year to world GDP growth.  Full implementation of the TFA is estimated to reduce global trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent.

“We also strongly welcome the entry into force of the TFA as an affirmation of our ongoing support for the WTO,” Mr. Hoang added.  “The WTO remains the cornerstone of the global economy, offering the first-best way to reduce barriers to trade, promote economic growth and foster sustainable development.  This agreement is a tangible articulation of the original goals of the ‘Doha Development Agenda’ launched back in 2001.”

Source: APEC

February 22, 2017

WTO: Entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement

Remarks by DG Azevêdo

Hello everyone. Thank you for being here .

In 2013, we did something that the WTO had never done before — we delivered a new multilateral trade deal — the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

It was a major breakthrough. It took a lot of hard work, flexibility, creativity and political will.

The Agreement opened for ratifications in November 2014.

On Feb 22nd morning, I received ratifications from Rwanda, Oman, Chad and Jordan, bringing the total number of ratifications to 112.

This means we have crossed the required legal threshold of two-thirds of the WTO membership.

Therefore I am very happy to announce that the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement has now entered into force.

This is fantastic news.

By ratifying the agreement, WTO members have shown their commitment to the multilateral trading system. They have followed through on the promises made when this deal was struck in Bali just over three years ago.

And by bringing the deal into force we can now begin the work of turning its benefits into reality.

As you know, the Agreement aims to streamline, simplify and standardise customs procedures. By doing so, it will help to cut trade costs around the world.

Estimates show that the full implementation of the Agreement could reduce trade costs globally by an average of 14.3 per cent.

Developing and least-developed countries in particular stand to gain from the full implementation of the Agreement as they tend to have a higher level of trade costs.

It will help these countries to diversify their trade. Developing countries could increase the number of products they export by 20 per cent, while LDCs could see an increase of up to 35 per cent.

In addition, developing countries could enter a third more foreign markets on average, while LDCs could access 60 per cent more, making these countries less vulnerable to external economic shocks.

The cumulative impact is striking. By 2030 the Agreement could add 2.7 percentage points per year to world trade growth and more than half a percentage point per year to world GDP growth. This impact would be greater than the elimination of all existing tariffs around the world.

The Agreement also broke new ground in the way it was designed.

It provides developing countries and LDCs with the flexibility to tailor the implementation of their commitments according to their specific needs and levels of development.

In addition, the Agreement provides for the necessary practical support to help members with their implementation. And we are working with a range of donor members and partners to mobilise that support.

To advance this work and help connect donors and beneficiaries, we launched the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility.

And, with today’s news — the entry into force — we can now lift the support being provided to a new level.

I would like to thank all the WTO members that have ratified the deal so far for helping us reach this historic milestone. I also urge those members who haven’t yet ratified to do so as soon as possible, so that they can benefit as well.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement is the biggest reform of global trade this century.

It sends a message about the power of trade to support jobs and growth around the world — in developed and developing countries alike.

Now, working together, we have the responsibility to implement the Agreement and make those benefits a reality.

I look forward to working with the membership on this.

And I hope that today’s news will inspire us to further successes in the near future.

Thank you.

Source: WTO

 Image: Fotosearch

February 22, 2017

EU welcomes entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) – the most significant multilateral trade deal concluded since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995 – enters into force on February 22, 2017.

The ratifications by Chad, Jordan, Oman and Rwanda today means the deal has reached the pre-determined threshold of 110 WTO members required for its immediate entry into force.

This agreement aims to simplify and clarify international import and export procedures, customs formalities and transit requirements. It will make trade-related administration easier and less costly, thus helping to provide an important and much needed boost to global economic growth. EU customs authorities will play a leading role in the implementation of the agreement, acting both as an example to follow and as an engine for further progress in trade facilitation within the EU and at international level.

The agreement will also help improve transparency, increase possibilities for small and medium-sized companies to participate in global value chains, and reduce the scope for corruption. The deal was agreed during the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in 2013.

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “Better border procedures and faster, smoother trade flows will revitalise global trade to the benefit of citizens and businesses in all parts of the world. Small companies, that have a hard time navigating daily bureaucracy and complicated rules, will be major winners.”

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica added: “Trade is a key driver for sustainable development. The new agreement will help tapping the huge potential of trade. I am ready to assist our partner countries to make the most of this agreement.”

The biggest scope for improvement – and thus the greatest potential to reap benefits – is in developing countries. The EU wants this agreement to play a significant role in increasing developing countries’ involvement in global value chains. For that reason, the EU has committed 400 million euros  to assist them with the reforms needed to comply with the rules set by the agreement.

In addition to its development dimension, the agreement also forms part of the EU’s efforts to help small and medium-sized European companies use the untapped potential of global markets.

The EU has been one of the promoters of the deal and led the efforts towards its conclusion. Following the ratification of the deal by the Council and the European Parliament in 2015, the EU actively encouraged other WTO Members to approve the deal without delay. While the critical mass has now been reached, allowing the agreement to become effective, the EU hopes the remaining WTO Members will ratify the agreement in the near future.

Source: European Union

February 22, 2017

B20 Statement on entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement

The TFA went into force on February 22, 2017. It is the first multilateral agreement agreed upon under the WTO umbrella.

The B20 strongly welcomes the ratification of the TFA. B20 Sherpa Stormy Mildner emphasized: “The TFA is the classic case for a win-win scenario. It can make trade easier, faster, and less costly for all, thus resulting in higher incomes, welfare, growth and sustainable development. “

The TFA will simplify and clarify international import and export procedures, customs formalities and transit requirements. It is now key that the agreement is fully and swiftly implemented. Ambitious TFA implementation would be a boon for development and inclusivity by increasing possibilities for SMEs and developing countries to participate in global value chains, thus tapping the huge potential of trade. The TFA can also help to increase transparency and reduce the scope for corruption. The success of the most significant WTO multilateral agreement since 1995 is a strong sign in the current environment of trade skepticism and underlines the commitment to the multilateral trading system. If WTO members live up to their ambitions the TFA can boost annual GDP growth by 0.5 per cent and world export growth by 2.7 per cent. Trade costs of low income countries could be reduced by as much as 16.5 per cent. If however, the TFA is not fully implemented benefits risk being much smaller. The G20 business community will contribute to an ambitious and swift implementation, for instance through the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and the participation in national trade facilitation committees.

Source: B20 Germany

February 23, 2017

SBF applauds the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement coming into force

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) came into force on Feb 22, 2017, with more than two-thirds of WTO’s 164 Members having ratified the said agreement. A landmark global trade agreement, the TFA is the first multilateral trade agreement to enter into force in over two decades. This development means that the TFA now becomes an official part of the multilateral trading system covering more than 96 per cent of global GDP. It is a positive development that boosts international trade which continues to be threatened by rising trade protectionism and political isolation.

Negotiations for the TFA concluded in December 2013 by WTO members. It seeks to reduce trade compliance costs with provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including those in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It addresses two basic business concerns which represent substantial costs to companies’ import and export transactions:

  1. Lack of transparency and predictability on trade measures imposed by countries; and
  2. Cumbersome trade-related procedures and excessive documentary requirements.

These challenges are particularly burdensome for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as they often lack the means and capacity to comply with complex rules. Furthermore, the high costs of complying with customs procedures and other non-tariff measures, coupled with uncertainty and possible time delays, are disincentives to SMEs that usually trade smaller volumes. They become less competitive and are inhibited from integrating into regional and global value chains. Ultimately, the TFA will make global growth more inclusive.

Based on calculations made by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development using its 2015 Trade Facilitation Indicators, implementing the TFA could bring down worldwide trade costs by between 12.5 per cent and 17.5 per cent, with low and lower middle income countries having the biggest reductions in trade costs. The TFA could provide a boost to global trade flows of over USD 1 trillion, and add 0.34 per cent to 0.54 per cent a year to world GDP growth, equivalent to USD 350 billion to USD 550 billion.

On what the TFA means to the Singapore business community, Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), said, “Our latest SBF National Business Survey 2016/2017 identified unclear rules and regulations as the top challenge businesses face when they expand overseas, cited by 46 per cent of respondents. The TFA will bring about more transparent, predictable and efficient customs procedures and lower compliance costs, lowering barriers for our companies to venture into foreign markets. For instance, the TFA requires WTO members to publish information on their respective import and export procedures and documentary requirements, which must be easily available online. This would considerably reduce the time, effort and resources for companies to obtain this information prior to exportation and importation.”

Mr Ho added, “How successful the TFA will be lies in its implementation. Beyond the 112 members that have ratified it, representing about 65pe cent of Singapore’s total trade in 2015, we hope that all WTO members, particularly our ASEAN partners, will come on board. We see the WTO TFA as complementary to the ASEAN Trade Facilitation Work Programme, so it will contribute towards realising the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025. SBF looks forward to partnering the Government and other stakeholders within and outside Singapore to raise awareness and prepare our companies for the implementation of the TFA.”

Source: SBF

February 22, 2017

USCC: Trade facilitation pact ratification a boost for US economy

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following statement today as the 110th country ratified the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), allowing the agreement to enter into force and be implemented:

This groundbreaking agreement will unleash new trade flows and spur growth around the world by cutting red tape and easing the movement of goods across borders.  It’s a welcome shot in the arm for the US and world economies.

“Some of the biggest beneficiaries will be American small and medium-sized businesses. They are the backbone of our economy, but their exports too often get tied up in the maze of bureaucratic and international border procedures. The TFA breaks down these barriers to spur economic growth by streamlining and simplifying trade requirements.

The WTO estimates the TFA could boost world trade by USD 1 trillion and help create over 20 million jobs around the world. However, we can only unlock these benefits if every country is committed to the implementation process.

These actions are the culmination of years of hard work, and we have achieved an important goal. However, the most difficult work still remains. We will continue to work with our partners across the globe to implement the agreement and urge others to join us in order to create opportunities for business to prosper.”

The TFA will streamline customs procedures to facilitate the passage of goods across borders, boosting transparency, cutting administrative costs, enhancing security, and leveraging modern IT tools. Negotiations for the agreement were completed in December 2013, and the United States ratified it in January 2015.

Source: USCC

February 22, 2017

BDI: WTO has set a clear mark on free and fair trade

Stefan Mair, Member of the BDI Executive Board, comments on the entry into force of the WTO agreement on trade facilitation.

“With the first multilateral treaty since its inception, the World Trade Organization has set a clear mark on free and fair trade. The timing could not be more appropriate: multilateralism and reliable trade rules are the right answer to the announced foreclosure rate of the US under President Donald Trump. According to the OECD, people in poorer countries of the world benefit most from the agreed trade facilitation. “

Translated from German

Source: BDI

February 22, 2017

CNI: 6 priorities in the trade facilitation agenda, in the view of industry

The National Confederation of Industry (CNI) evaluates that the entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) opens a very favourable perspective for the prioritization and advances in Brazilian trade policy. The items that are pending in Brazil and that should be implemented immediately

  1. Prior consultation on standards development
  2. Early settlement of consultations
  3. Fees and charges related to import or export
  4. Dispatch and release of goods
  5. Destruction and return of goods
  6. Freedom of transit

By Adriana Nicacio

Translated from Portugese

Source: CNI