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Friday 13 February 1998
WTO organizes symposium on trade facilitation

Tariffs and quota restrictions are falling to their lowest levels ever all over the world as a result of the Uruguay Round. However, traders today still face a formidable non-tariff measure: delays at borders because of complex formalities and cumbersome paperwork.

The WTO is bringing traders and government policymakers together to identify problems hampering movement of goods across borders at a Symposium on Trade Facilitation on 9-10 March 1998 in its new conference centre.

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The Director-General, Mr. Renato Ruggiero, will give the keynote address. Experts from the private sector will give presentations on the following topics:

-    Introduction of the trade transaction process;

-    Physical movement of consignments (transport and transit);

-    Import and export procedures and requirements, including customs and border crossing problems;

-    Payments, insurance and other financial requirements which affect cross-border movement of goods in international trade; and

-    Electronic facilities and their importance for facilitating international trade.

A number of intergovernmental organizations will explain their current work in trade facilitation.    

The Symposium will conclude with an open exchange of views among participants on possible conclusions as well as on future work on trade facilitation in various fora, including the WTO.

The Symposium is an initiative of the WTO Council for Trade in Goods, which was instructed by the Singapore Ministerial Conference "to undertake exploratory and analytical work, drawing on the work of other relevant international organizations, on the simplification of trade procedures in order to assess the scope for WTO rules in this area".