> Roberto Azevêdo’s speeches


Ladies and Gentlemen

I'm very happy to join you today, as we launch the new Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.

This is a very important moment for the WTO, and for the entire trade facilitation community.

Just two years ago, at our last Ministerial Conference in Bali, we successfully agreed the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. It was a big success for the WTO. And it has real economic and developmental significance.

The private sector is well aware of the problems caused by high costs and long delays at the border — and the barriers to trade that they represent.

These barriers can often mean the difference between being able to compete internationally — or not.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement aims to lower, or remove, these barriers. The Agreement is essentially about streamlining and simplifying customs procedures to cut the cost of doing business across borders.  

These reforms will bring a higher level of predictability and transparency to customs processes, making it easier for businesses — especially smaller enterprises — to join global value chains.

It could reduce the cost of trade by an average of 14.5%.  In fact, the impact could be greater than elimination of all remaining tariffs.

And the Trade Facilitation Agreement was a first in many ways. Its architecture is totally unique.

It provides developing and least developed countries with the flexibility to tailor their commitments and implementation schedules according to their specific needs and commensurate with their level of development.

It also provides practical support to help with implementation.

That's why we created the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility. We want to ensure that everyone can access the support they need. And it has got off to a good start.

There is significant support and funding available from a range of partners to help with trade facilitation measures, and specifically with the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.  

This is very positive, and we must keep this momentum. Our research shows that the more extensive and faster the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, the greater the benefits will be. 

The first step in that direction is to complete the ratification process of the Agreement.

As of today, 63 members have completed their ratifications. During the first two days of the Ministerial Conference, we received the ratifications of Myanmar, Norway, Zambia, Ukraine, Viet Nam and Brunei.

This is good news — we are now long past halfway to the target number at which the Agreement comes into force. So we must keep increasing the pace.

The second step is to ensure that trade facilitation reforms are implemented as smoothly as possible, and that businesses can seize the opportunities they bring. 

And this is what the Global Alliance we are launching today is all about.

  It brings to life a new framework for businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises, to partner up with governments to ensure that the reforms delivered are meaningful and beneficial to all.

If trade flows are restricted, businesses are the first ones to feel the effects. Trade facilitation measures such as putting information online and pre-arrival processing bear directly on the private sector's capacity to grow and create jobs.

Therefore, we must listen to them, hear their concerns, and design reforms that meet their needs in an effective and efficient way.

The launching of this Global Alliance will secure an important platform for that dialogue, so let me thank all the organizations involved:

  • the World Economic Forum
  • the International Chamber of Commerce
  • the Center for International Private Enterprise
  • all donor countries.

In closing, I think the Trade Facilitation Agreement — and the entire apparatus that is being set up with it, like the TFA Facility and this Global Alliance — are great examples of innovation, creativity and cooperation in the international level.

I hope this positive attitude can inspire us in other areas of our work, especially as we strive to deliver significant outcomes here in Nairobi.

So thank you again for your support and commitment. Let's keep up this good work.

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