WTO Trade Facilitation Committee Convenes First Meeting in Geneva

16 May 2017

The WTO Committee on Trade Facilitation met for the first time on 16 May 2017 at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee was formed to oversee the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), and is tasked to provide a forum for WTO member countries to consult on operationalizing the TFA and advancing its objectives.

Members of the Committee elected Ambassador Daniel Blockert, Sweden, as chair of the Committee. The Committee will develop procedures for sharing information and best practices among members and will review the operations and implementation of the agreement after four years.

The TFA aims to help expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods across borders. Full implementation of the TFA is forecast to slash trade costs by an average 14.3%. The time needed to import goods could be cut by over 1.5 days, while the time to export goods could be cut by almost 2 days.

A seminar is scheduled on 2 June 2017 at WTO headquarters for the countries to review the negotiation history and share recommendations on how to secure effective implementation of the TFA.

At the request of developing and least-developed countries, a Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) was created to help ensure they receive the assistance needed to reap the full benefits of the TFA and to support the full implementation of the agreement.

Developed countries have committed to immediately implement the TFA. Developing countries will apply only the provisions marked as Category A priority commitments. Developing countries must indicate when the other provisions, marked as Category B and C, will be implemented and what support will be needed to implement these provisions.

The TFA entered into force on 22 February 2017 after Rwanda, Oman, Chard, and Jordan submitted their Instruments of Acceptance, bringing the total number of member ratifications to 112. Nepal ratified the TFA on 13 January 2017, becoming the 14th least developed country to do so.

The Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Armenia, Fiji, Costa Rica, and Sierra Leone have since submitted their instruments of acceptance to bring the number of ratifications to 118.

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