Trade Facilitation Agreement Status

Bureaucratic delays and “bureaucracy” weigh on traders for cross-border trade. Trade facilitation – the simplification, modernization and harmonization of export and import processes – has therefore become an important issue for the global trading system. Section II of the agreement contains innovative special and differentiated treatment provisions that link implementation by developing countries and LDCs to the acquisition of the ability to implement the agreement for the first time in WTO history (see box). It is estimated that it is in developing and least developed countries, mainly African countries, that trade costs could be significantly reduced. Full implementation of FTAs is estimated to reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3% and boost world trade by up to $1 trillion per year, with the highest growth in the poorest countries. For the first time in the history of the WTO, the implementation of the agreement is directly linked to the country`s ability to do so. A Trade Facilitation Mechanism (TFAF) has been set up to ensure that developing and least developed countries receive the assistance they need to take full advantage of the benefits of the TFA. Prevent, prevent, prevent: developing countries and LDCs that are willing to adopt the specific and differentiated provisions of the TFA must meet the implementation communication requirements set out in the agreement. These notifications are part of the agreement. Developing countries cannot expect these flexibilities if they do not respect their part of the agreement. According to this reality check, developing countries and LDCs wishing to take advantage of the benefits of the agreement could take full account of the following recommendations: It is interesting to note that the Democratic People`s Republic of Lao and Malawi are the least likely to have worked overtime on the operation of their single-desk systems (where traders submit regulatory documents in one place). In addition, both developing and least developed countries had to provide the WTO with information on contact points for the coordination of these TACBs (Article 22.3). Since 22 February 2019, only five developing countries have met this commitment.

This low compliance makes it difficult for development partners to coordinate aid and the willingness of these countries to carry out ambitious trade facilitation projects. The TFA aims to expedite trade procedures, including the transfer, release and release of goods. Its full implementation could boost global trade by $1 trillion per year and reduce trade costs by 14.3% for low-income countries and more than 13% for middle-income countries. The DSC establishes a number of transparency obligations with respect to the substantive provisions of the agreement with respect to (i) online descriptions of business procedures; (ii) contact points to answer questions; (iii) the operation of insulated windows; (iv) the use of customs officers; and v) contact points for the exchange of customs information. Under the special and differentiated treatment provisions, the TFA provides developing countries and LDCs with additional time during which both groups of countries are exempt from the application of the dispute settlement agreement (Article 20). Given the stages of development, the Agreement provides for shorter and longer periods for developing countries, as well as greater flexibility for least developed countries. What is positive is that seven LDCs have already communicated their indicative deadlines, while the deadline expires in two years (February 22, 2021), sending a clear signal to donors about their commitment to implement the agreement.

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