“Completing the review is an important milestone for the Trade Facilitation Committee. Members have worked intensely over the past six months to look back at the significant progress made over the past four years, while also recognizing the implementation challenges faced by members, particularly least-developed countries (LDCs),” the Committee Chair, Mr Christopher O'Toole (Canada), said.

“Importantly, the Committee also looked to the future, identifying a number of means by which it can strengthen its work to support full implementation of the TFA. As a result, the Committee has identified a good basis for a future work programme,” he said.

Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said: “I congratulate members on having completed this first review. The constructive and cooperative Committee spirit that kicked in as members navigated their way through a first such exercise is clearly reflected in this significant outcome. I encourage the Committee to continue in this manner, with the aim of ensuring the benefits of the TFA for all members.”

The Director-General also welcomed the Committee's request for the Secretariat to work on updating previous economic estimates of the benefits of the TFA, noting that it is important to also see the impact on world trade of the last two years' struggle with the COVID-19 crisis.  The review report notes that the pandemic represented an unprecedented challenge for all members' customs procedures. A compendium of members' trade facilitation experiences related to the pandemic is attached as an annex to the report.

The TFA seeks to expedite 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. Under the Agreement, members committed to review the operation and implementation of the TFA four years from its entry into force, which was on 22 February 2017, and periodically thereafter.

The TFA is the first WTO agreement in which developing and LDC members can determine their own implementation schedules, with progress in implementation explicitly linked to technical and financial capacity. Developed members were required to implement all provisions of the TFA from its entry into force.

The report finds that a large number of members have submitted in a timely manner the notifications needed to identify implementation timelines. Notifications submitted by members indicate that the current rate of TFA implementation commitments is 70.5%.

The analysis of members' implementation commitments further indicates that, across the WTO membership, the five measures with the highest rate of implementation commitments are: pre-shipment inspection (Article 10.5); movement of goods (Article 9); detention (Article 5.2); use of customs brokers (Article 10.6); and temporary admission of goods (Article 10.9). On the other hand, the five measures with the lowest rate of implementation commitments are: risk management (Article 7.4); border agency cooperation (Article 8); test procedures (Article 5.3); authorized operators (Article 7.7); and the single window (Article 10.4). The report also highlights that LDC members continue to face challenges in fulfilling notification obligations.

Moreover, it notes that 85 members have notified their need for technical assistance and capacity building, and that the most cited request was for human resources and training; assistance in amending laws or regulations or implementing new ones; and information and communication technologies.

Building on the discussions during the review, the Committee lists in the report its recommendations for further work, including encouraging more cooperation between donors and partners for technical assistance and capacity building, enhancing the monitoring of implementation timelines, and producing reports on best practices for national authorities. The Committee also decided to hold a dedicated session to discuss transit issues of landlocked country members and requests the WTO's Economic Research and Statistics Division to update its 2015 World Trade Report on the benefits and challenges of implementing the TFA.  The Committee will also continue to take up proposals from members to further enhance the WTO's work on trade facilitation. The next review will be in 2026.

The review report is available here.

A dedicated page on the review can be accessed here.




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