In their meeting, DG Azevêdo and Minister Pholsena highlighted the importance of the TFA in reducing trade costs. Lao PDR is the second Least Developed Country (LDC) to ratify the TFA; its acceptance is a significant achievement, given the country's status as a landlocked LDC.
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 TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted the Agreement. In addition to Lao PDR, the following WTO members have accepted the agreement: 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, and Liechtenstein.
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.
Lao PDR submitted a notification to the WTO on 15 September outlining which provisions of the TFA will be implemented immediately upon entry into force of the agreement. This “Category A” notification of Lao PDR and other WTO members can be found on the trade facilitation webpage at www.wto.org/tradefacilitation.