Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.
The three ratifications bring up to 56 the number of WTO members that have accepted the TFA, or more than half the number needed to secure its entry into force. Ratification by two-thirds of the WTO membership is required for the TFA to take effect.
Côte d'Ivoire is the fifth African country to accept the TFA, along with Mauritius, Botswana, Niger, and Togo. Grenada and Saint Lucia are the second and third Caribbean island nations to ratify the TFA, after Trinidad and Tobago.
Other WTO members that have accepted the TFA are Hong Kong China, Singapore, the United States, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Belize, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, China, Liechtenstein, Lao PDR, New Zealand, Thailand, the European Union (on behalf of its 28 member states), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Pakistan, Panama and Guyana.
The TFA broke new ground for developing and least-developed countries in the way it will be implemented. For the first time in WTO history, the requirement to implement the Agreement was directly linked to the capacity of the country to do so. In addition, the Agreement states that assistance and support should be provided to help them achieve that capacity.
A Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) was also created at the request of developing and least-developed country members to help ensure that they receive the assistance needed to reap the full benefits of the TFA and to support the ultimate goal of full implementation of the new agreement by all members.
Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion per annum, according to the WTO’s flagship World Trade Report released on 26 October. Significantly, the Report also found that developing countries will benefit significantly from the TFA, capturing more than half of the available gains.