Remarks by DG Azevêdo

Roberto Azevêdo’s speeches


Hello everyone. Thank you for being here today.

In 2013, we did something that the WTO had never done before — we delivered a new multilateral trade deal — the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

It was a major breakthrough. It took a lot of hard work, flexibility, creativity and political will.

The Agreement opened for ratifications in November 2014.

This morning, I received ratifications from Rwanda, Oman, Chad and Jordan, bringing the total number of ratifications to 112.

This means we have crossed the required legal threshold of two-thirds of the WTO membership.

Therefore I am very happy to announce that the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement has now entered into force.

This is fantastic news.

By ratifying the agreement, WTO members have shown their commitment to the multilateral trading system. They have followed through on the promises made when this deal was struck in Bali just over three years ago.

And by bringing the deal into force we can now begin the work of turning its benefits into reality. 

As you know, the Agreement aims to streamline, simplify and standardise customs procedures. By doing so, it will help to cut trade costs around the world.

Estimates show that the full implementation of the Agreement could reduce trade costs globally by an average of 14.3 per cent.

Developing and least-developed countries in particular stand to gain from the full implementation of the Agreement as they tend to have a higher level of trade costs.

It will help these countries to diversify their trade. Developing countries could increase the number of products they export by 20 per cent, while LDCs could see an increase of up to 35 per cent. 

In addition, developing countries could enter a third more foreign markets on average, while LDCs could access 60 per cent more, making these countries less vulnerable to external economic shocks.

The cumulative impact is striking. By 2030 the Agreement could add 2.7 percentage points per year to world trade growth and more than half a percentage point per year to world GDP growth. This impact would be greater than the elimination of all existing tariffs around the world.

The Agreement also broke new ground in the way it was designed.

It provides developing countries and LDCs with the flexibility to tailor the implementation of their commitments according to their specific needs and levels of development.

In addition, the Agreement provides for the necessary practical support to help members with their implementation. And we are working with a range of donor members and partners to mobilise that support. 

To advance this work and help connect donors and beneficiaries, we launched the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility.

And, with today's news — the entry into force — we can now lift the support being provided to a new level.

I would like to thank all the WTO members that have ratified the deal so far for helping us reach this historic milestone. I also urge those members who haven't yet ratified to do so as soon as possible, so that they can benefit as well.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement is the biggest reform of global trade this century.

It sends a message about the power of trade to support jobs and growth around the world — in developed and developing countries alike.

Now, working together, we have the responsibility to implement the Agreement and make those benefits a reality.

I look forward to working with the membership on this.

And I hope that today's news will inspire us to further successes in the near future.

Thank you.

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