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.
Kenya is the 57th WTO member and sixth African nation to ratify the TFA. Representatives from the WTO's 162 members will meet in the Kenyan capital Nairobi from 15-18 December for the organization's 10th Ministerial Conference, the first WTO ministerial to be held in Africa.
The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted the Agreement.
In a 1 July address to the WTO's 5th Global Review of Aid for Trade, Amina Mohamed, Kenya's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said that high trade costs have been identified as a brake on trade integration, growth and development.
"Trade Facilitation is a policy good for countries in an integrated and competitive global economy," she declared.
In addition to Kenya, the following WTO members have also accepted the TFA: Hong Kong China, Singapore, the United States, Mauritius, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Botswana, Trinidad and Tobago, the Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Niger, Belize, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, China, Liechtenstein, Lao PDR, New Zealand, Togo, Thailand, the European Union (on behalf of its 28 member states), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Pakistan, Panama, Guyana, Côte d'Ivoire, Grenada, and Saint Lucia.
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.