Governments are committed to bringing the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) into force but the private sector will play an important role in ensuring its effective implementation, business representatives said on 1 October at the WTO’s Public Forum.

At a workshop on TFA implementation hosted by the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA), business representatives said conclusion of the TFA was a major achievement and that a number of governments were proceeding “full steam ahead” with ratification of the Agreement.

The TFA will come into force when two-thirds of the WTO’s membership has formally accepted the Agreement. To date, 19 WTO members have notified their ratification to the WTO but that number is expected to increase sharply in the days and weeks ahead.

Speakers said they expected the private sector to play a key role not only in providing support to implement the TFA, but also to provide feedback to governments on any subsequent problems or bottlenecks encountered.

One important aspect of the TFA highlighted at the workshop were the provisions relating to availability of information on import, export, and transit requirements. The speakers highlighted the importance of harmonizing notification and information exchange systems to ensure the smooth flow of electronic data.

A number of sessions at the Public Forum touched upon intellectual property issues and how IP rights can contribute to making trade work. In a session organized by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Centre, the panellists provided the perspectives of the private and public sectors and consumers on IP rights. They stressed that the TRIPS Agreement sets an important minimum standard of protection and provides the necessary legal security for businesses. Participants debated how IP protection should be strengthened globally and internationally.

A session organized by the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI) focussed on IP as a trade source. The session looked at the broad application of IP across countries and different business models in addition to the enabling role of IP, with examples from the fashion industry, the food industry, and industrial joint ventures. Participants also listened to an overview of the IP situation in India and the IP policy considerations that the Indian government is discussing at the moment. 

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