Many trade facilitation measures included in RTAs are non-discriminatory against non-RTA trading partners.
On the other hand, RTAs include some trade facilitation measures such as the provision of advanced rulings, the use of regional standards strictly applied only between RTA partner countries, and simplified customs procedures and fees afforded only to RTA members, and may be discriminatory against third parties.
Another potential complication arises when a country or a regional grouping is party to several RTAs that apply similar trade facilitation measures with different scopes.
This might lead to a "spaghetti bowl" of different customs procedures applied for different trading partners in the region.
The objective of the Ad Hoc Expert Meeting is to suggest, what the role of UNCTAD could be in assisting developing countries in ensuring coherence between regional and multilateral trade facilitation commitments.
To achieve this objective, the meeting´s discussions will:
- Examine, whether and which of the trade facilitation measures arising from the multiple memberships of developing countries in various regional trade arrangements are discriminatory.
- Discuss the degree of convergence of these regional trade facilitation measures with the relevant existing and future multilateral rules under the WTO.