With the WTO's Bali Package on trade facilitation now in force, UNCTAD held a workshop in the Dominican Republic to help Latin American and Caribbean countries develop trade facilitation (TF) project proposals based on their national TF implementation plans.
An UNCTAD workshop in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from 3 to 7 March 2014 gathered senior government officials and the private sector to draft trade facilitation project proposals addressing technical assistance needs linked to implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. Participants were from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua and Paraguay and included officials from ministries of trade, agriculture and health and customs.
This workshop made me aware of the difficult task of categorizing the provisions of the agreement, how to consider the legal obligations and prioritization of each measure as well as the importance of acquiring the necessary resources from donors to be able to implement them
Participant at the workshop
The event followed on from a series of regional workshops UNCTAD conducted as part of its support to developing countries in the negotiations leading up to the agreement of the WTO Bali package last December.
With the Bali accord in place, donors and international organizations are now expected to focus on how to assist developing and least developed countries to implement its various provisions.
In his opening speech, Mr. Gregorio Lora Arias, Counselor of the Director General of Customs in the Dominican Republic, said,
"The WTO trade facilitation agreement will raise the competitiveness of our economies".
For five days, 20 participants elaborated and drafted trade facilitation project proposals to address their technical assistance needs in areas such as test procedures, border agency cooperation, single window systems (enabling cross-border traders to submit regulatory documents at a single location or entity) and other risk management methods.
Participants during the technical visit to the Port of Haina
In addition, there was a technical visit to the Port of Haina under the auspices of the Dominican Customs Department.
A special session with donor agencies also was held to examine how different development partners could be approached for technical assistance.
During the past two years, UNCTAD's Trade Facilitation Section has supported the drafting of national trade facilitation implementation plans in 30 developing and least developed countries and organized several regional training sessions on how to obtain technical and financial support for implementing actions required to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the WTO agreement. UNCTAD has more than 40 years of experience in the area of trade facilitation.
The workshops are part of UNCTAD's European Union-financed project "Implementation Plans for WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement in Developing Members".