The entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement is imminent. Only three more ratifications are needed. For developing countries that have ratified or will ratify the Agreement the entry into force results in important obligations.
Trade Facilitation Agreement at a glance
The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) sets forth measures to expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders, as well as reducing the related costs.
Obligations on Entry into Force*
As of 23 January 2017, 107 WTO members have deposited their instruments of acceptance with the WTO Secretariat. Only three additional ratifications are needed to bring the Trade Facilitation Agreement into imminent effect within the next month(s).
Upon the entry into force of the Agreement, WTO Members that have ratified it, whether developed, developing countries or least developed countries, are supposed to have in place a national trade facilitation committee responsible for the coordination and implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
With the imminent entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, developing countries that have ratified the Agreement are under obligation to undertake the following steps:
- Immediate notification of provisions designated under Category A
- Implementation of the measures designated under Category A
- Immediate notification of the provisions under Category B and C and their corresponding indicative dates for implementation
Impact of UNCTAD Trade Facilitation Assistance
UNCTAD has long-standing expertise and experience in trade facilitation and provides technical assistance and capacity-building support to its Members, including in the establishment of national trade and transport facilitation committees, gap analysis needs assessments, trade facilitation roadmaps, transit agreements and customs automation through its UNCTAD Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) programme as well as Trade Portals.
In 2016, UNCTAD launched the Empowerment Programme for National Trade Facilitation Committees, which provides an intensive professional training for the Secretariat and the members of national trade facilitation committees. The main objective is to help them implement, in a coordinated manner, trade facilitation reforms, including the provisions of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. Fifteen developing countries and least developed countries are currently conducting the Empowerment Programme.
UNCTAD has to date assisted more than 45 developing countries and least developed countries to conduct gap analysis and to elaborate more than 135 project proposals for the implementation of specific Trade Facilitation Agreement's measures. In addition, UNCTAD has supported the successful establishment of over 15 national trade facilitation committees in the East African Community, Latin America, Western Africa and Asia. In particular, the programme for the five member countries and secretariat of the East African Community is a good example of sustainable technical assistance and capacity building.
UNCTAD is organizing the first International Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees in cooperation with other international organizations. The objective is to empower the leaders of national trade facilitation committees and provide opportunities for them to access funding. The forum will be held on 23-27 January 2017 at UNCTAD headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
* UNCTAD will publish shortly a technical note explaining in detail the following steps upon the entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement for developing and least-developed countries.