In December 2013, WTO members concluded the negotiations of the Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) at the 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali. Upon entry into force, the TFA will create binding obligations for WTO members to improve customs procedures, transparency and efficiency as well as cooperation amongst border regulatory agencies and private sector. The Agreement also contains provision for technical assistance and capacity building to support the implementation in developing and least-developed countries.
The developing and least developed Members shall self-designate, on individual basis the provisions of the TFA into Category A (implementation upon entry into force), B (deferred implementation) or C (linked with acquisition of capacity through assistance and support) and the date of their choice for the implementation of respective provisions.
Trade Facilitation, however, goes beyond the scope of the WTO TFA as it encompasses all the other activities related to the optimization of cross-border management and the improvement of national supply chains. Such activities include – amongst other -:
- Logistic infrastructure development,
- Providing financing facilities to exporting businesses,
- Enhancing private sector ability to comply with cross-border requirements,
- Handle international commercial contracts and dispute resolution mechanisms
- Providing efficient logistics services to reinforce countries connectivity to global value chains.
The TFA includes institutional arrangements: the establishment of a permanent committee on trade facilitation at the WTO, and also at country level, it requires to members to have a national committee to facilitate domestic coordination and implementation of the provisions of the Agreement.
The ITC supports these countries to improve their business environment and facilitate better management of border operations, and national initiatives to reform trade regulatory frameworks and optimize trade agencies processes in-line with the obligations ensuing from the TFA. By helping countries remove supply chain barriers due to burdensome administrative requirements, ITC contributes to reduce cost and delays of cross-border operations and improves private sector competitiveness.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) has a unique mandate in the United Nations system to promote increased competitiveness of SMEs in developing, transition and least developed countries and assisting them to better use trade as a platform for growth, development and employment creation.
In this platform, public and private stakeholders can find updated information on the status of ratification of the TFA and its level of implementation, as well as valuable resources and publications for national Trade Facilitation reforms and TFA implementation. ITC places special emphasis in supporting the private sector participation in public policy reform and to regional and harmonized implementation of trade facilitation reforms to achieve greater efficiency and boost intra-regional trade.