"Almost 85 per cent of WTO members have now completed their domestic ratification processes. This is great progress, but of course there is more to do," DG Azevêdo said at the launch of a new report entitled "Trade Facilitation and the Global Economy" published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
"We all know the potential that the TFA has to cut trade costs. This report takes a closer look at why this matters. For example, it highlights the difference that this will make for MSMEs (micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises), which often face a prohibitively high cost of trading. It also highlights the fact that inefficient border procedures multiply the costs when goods and components cross borders many times during their production," DG Azevedo said.
"The Agreement is a truly inclusive endeavour. This was true of its design and its negotiation, and it will be true of its impact," he said.
DG Azevêdo's full speech is available here.
The report finds that trade facilitation measures are being implemented worldwide although the progress is uneven across different countries and across the various provisions of the TFA, OECD's Julia Nielson and Evdokia Moise said at the book launch. Early improvements have been observed in areas such as automation and streamlining of procedures as well as engagement with the trade community, while the biggest challenge appears to lie in the cooperation of domestic and cross-border agencies, the report states.
WTO members heard further updates from the Secretariat on the implementation of the TFA at the Committee on Trade Facilitation meeting held after the book launch. The current rate of implementation commitments of the Agreement stands at 60.4 per cent as of 26 June. Broken down by level of development, this equates to a 100 per cent rate of implementation commitments by developed members, 59.1 per cent among developing members and 21.6 per cent among least developed countries (LDCs) according to the TFA Database. The figures correspond to the portions of the TFA that have been legally committed to implementation. Developed countries committed to implement the Agreement in full upon its entry into force in 22 February 2017, while developing and least-developed members set their own timetables for implementing the TFA, taking into account their respective capacities. These commitments have been communicated to the WTO in a series of notifications.
Developing countries will immediately apply the TFA provisions they have designated as Category A commitments. For the other provisions of the Agreement, they must indicate when these will be implemented and what capacity building support is needed to help them implement these provisions, known as Category B and C commitments. These can be implemented at a later date, with LDCs given more time to notify these commitments.
So far, the WTO has received 113 notifications of Category A commitments, approaching the overall number of notifications in this area that is likely to be received. The current number of Category B commitments stands at 67 and at 56 for Category C.
Furthermore, the Committee meeting featured an experience-sharing segment that focused on the themes of regional approaches to trade facilitation and the provision of opportunities for public comment and consultations on regulatory procedures.
Members also considered the most recent notifications since the last Committee meeting and called on each other to submit the necessary information for transparency. They further heard updates on trade facilitation activities of fellow members and of the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility.
The next Committee meeting will be in early October.