The chair of the committee, Ambassador Daniel Blockert of Sweden, noted that the meeting was the first focused on substantive matters related to the TFA and responded to a request for a more member-driven way of looking at TFA notifications.
Notifications by members
Since February, the committee has received 21 notifications from members regarding so-called Category A, B and C notifications. Category A covers TFA commitments developing members promised to implement upon entry into force of the TFA; Category B covers commitments that a developing or least-developed country (LDC) member will implement after a transitional period following the entry into force of the agreement; and Category C covers commitments that a developing or LDC member will implement after a transitional period following the entry into force of the Agreement and that require technical assistance and capacity-building support to implement.
Developed countries were required to implement all provisions of the TFA from the date of entry into force
In addition, the committee has now received 11 notifications from members which the chair described as having "transparency" objectives, either in a broader context or in relation to particular provisions of the TFA, such as single window operations, the use of customs brokers, and customs cooperation.
Finally, the committee has received seven notifications from donor members since February under Article 22 of the TFA which provide information on assistance and support for capacity building that will be made available to members requiring such assistance.
All the notifications are available in the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement Database.
Several members that submitted Article 22 notifications underlined the importance of transparency in identifying partners looking for assistance and their commitment to ensuring implementation of the Agreement.
The chair concluded that the discussions on the notifications provided a valuable first exchange on implementation and that this item would likely be on the agenda of the committee for the foreseeable future.
Rules of procedure
The chair updated members on the progress made on the committee's rules of procedure. He said that progress had been made and that consultations on the issue will continue.
The WTO Secretariat provided an update on the activities on the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility, which was created in 2014 at the request of developing and LDC members to help ensure that they receive the assistance they need to reap the full benefits of the TFA and to support the ultimate goal of full implementation.
The chair said the committee will hold its next meeting in the first quarter of 2018, probably sometime in February.
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 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.
More information on trade facilitation and the TFA is available here.