Trade facilitation—the simplification, modernization and harmonization of export and import processes—has emerged as an important issue for the world trading system, especially since conclusion of negotiations at the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference on the landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA. The TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit and sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area. In reaffirming the commitments to strengthen the multilateral trading system, the Addis Agenda calls on WTO Members to fully and expeditiously implement the ministerial declarations and decisions agreed at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference, called the Bali Package. The TFA, one of the major components of the Bali Package, sets forth a series of measures for expeditiously moving goods across borders. On 22 February 2017 WTO obtained the necessary number of acceptance instruments for the TFA to enter into force.
Table: Acceptances of Protocol of Amendment to insert the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement into Annex 1A of the WTO Agreement
|Region||Number of WTO Members|
|Latin America and the Caribbean||20|
Source: World Trade Organisation
The TFA 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.
A 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 TFAF will provide two types of grants to developing and LDC Members notifying Category C commitments. Project preparation grants and project implementation grants will be available after the Agreement enters into force. Members may apply for these grants where no other funding source is available to meet their needs. More information on the WTO and trade facilitation is available here.