Wto Trade Facilitation Agreement

The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement: What You Need to Know

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international organization that regulates trade between countries. Its goal is to ensure that trade flows smoothly, predictably, and freely as much as possible. One of the ways the WTO does this is through the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which was adopted by WTO members in 2013.

What is the TFA?

The TFA is a multilateral agreement that aims to simplify and streamline international trade procedures. It covers a wide range of activities related to cross-border trade, such as customs procedures, transit requirements, and border control measures. The agreement sets out a series of commitments that WTO members must implement to facilitate trade. These commitments include:

– Making available trade-related information and documents electronically

– Simplifying and harmonizing customs procedures

– Establishing predictable procedures for the release and clearance of goods

– Improving cooperation with other customs authorities

– Establishing risk management systems for customs control

– Providing technical assistance and capacity building to developing countries

Why is the TFA important?

The TFA is important because it can help lower trade costs and increase global trade. It is estimated that implementing the TFA could reduce trade costs by up to 14.5%, which would be a significant boost for businesses of all sizes. The agreement also promotes transparency in trade procedures and reduces the opportunities for corruption and bureaucratic delays. This can help create a level playing field for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which often face greater obstacles when trading across borders.

Who benefits from the TFA?

The TFA benefits all WTO members, but it is particularly beneficial for developing countries. These countries often have limited resources and capacity to implement complex trade procedures, which can be a major barrier to trade. The TFA provides technical assistance and capacity building to support developing countries in implementing the agreement. This can help these countries integrate into the global trading system and benefit from increased trade opportunities.

What is the current status of the TFA?

The TFA entered into force on 22 February 2017, following its ratification by two-thirds of the WTO membership. Since then, 161 out of 164 WTO members have ratified the agreement, making it one of the most widely accepted trade agreements in history. The agreement is monitored by the WTO Committee on Trade Facilitation, which reviews progress made by WTO members in implementing their commitments under the agreement.

Conclusion

The TFA is an important agreement that can help lower trade costs, increase transparency in trade procedures, and create a level playing field for businesses. It is particularly beneficial for developing countries, which often face greater obstacles when trading across borders. With the vast majority of WTO members having ratified the agreement, the TFA is well on its way to achieving its goal of simplifying and streamlining international trade procedures.