Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

Overview of trade facilitation work from mid-1998 until end of 1999

In July 1998, the CTG decided that it was necessary to conduct further exploratory and analytical work in a dedicated forum in order to focus more specifically on questions of trade facilitation, as would have been difficult in the framework of formal CTG meetings. On 8 July, the Council agreed to continue work as set out in a Chairman’s proposal on future work (page 4-5 of document G/C/M/34) (download in Microsoft Word format, 6 pages, 49KB).

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Trade facilitation work in 2002

Trade facilitation work in 2001
Trade facilitation in the preparatory work for the Doha Ministerial Conference, (2001)

Trade facilitation work in 2000
De-restricted papers submitted until end of 2000

> Work from mid-1998 until end of 1999
> Trade Facilitation in the preparatory work for the Seattle Ministerial Conference (1999)

Work in the WTO until mid-1998


It was agreed to hold four dedicated meetings on trade facilitation as informal meetings of the Goods Council. The meetings should address the following issues:

  • import and export procedures and requirements, including customs and border-crossing problems; overview of the Kyoto Convention and its current revision process — September 1998;

  • physical movement of consignments (transport and transit); payments, insurance and other financial requirements which affect the cross-border movement of goods in international trade — December 1998;

  • electronic facilities and their importance for facilitating international trade; technical cooperation and development issues relating to simplification of trade procedures; consideration of WTO Agreements relating to, or including provisions on, trade facilitation — March 1999;

  • evaluation of the exploratory and analytical work to assess the scope for WTO rules in the area of trade facilitation — June 1999.

The “Chairman’s proposal” further foresaw that “the results of the exploratory and analytical work mandated by the Singapore Ministerial Declaration should be reported by the CTG to the General Council”.

The first three meetings were held between September 1998 and April 1999, as set out in the “Chairman’s proposal”. Several papers by Members were circulated at these meetings (for a complete overview, see below). At the third meeting, input from other WTO bodies on those aspects of trade facilitation related to the respective agreements under their purview was circulated.

At the fourth meeting on 21 June 1999, Members carried out an evaluation of the exploratory and analytical work to assess the scope for WTO rules in the area of trade facilitation.At this informal meeting, it was agreed to submit a status report to the General Council on work undertaken since Singapore. (G/L/333) (download in Microsoft Word format, 12 pages, 86KB)



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Papers submitted until end of 1999 back to top


European Communities

22 September 1998

Assessment of Scope for WTO Rules in the Field of Import, Export, and Customs Procedures



Republic of Korea

25 September 1998

Reforming the Customs Clearance System in Korea

(National Experience Paper)


Hong Kong, China

28 September 1998

Import and Export Procedures and Requirements

(National Experience Paper)



30 September 1998

Trade Facilitation

(Suggestions for a WTO role in trade facilitation)


WTO Secretariat

2 December 1998

Update of background note G/C/W/80

(information on trade facilitation work carried out by other international organizations)


WTO Secretariat

2 December 1998

Background note

(Inventory of delegations’ suggestions)


European Communities

3 December 1998

Issues Relating to the Physical Movement of Consignments (Transport and Transit) & Payment, Insurance and Other Financial Questions Affecting Cross-border Trade in Goods


Republic of Korea

22 December 1998

Matters Related to the Facilitation of Cargo Movement in Korea

(National Experience Paper)


WTO Secretariat

5 January 1999

The TRIPS Agreement and Trade Facilitation


WTO Secretariat

25 February 1999

Development Aspects of Trade Facilitation



4 March 1999

Trade Facilitation

(Proposal for future WTO work)


European Communities

4 March 1999

Trade Facilitation and Electronic Commerce





European Communities

10 March 1999

Trade Facilitation in relation to existing WTO Agreements



European Communities

10 March 1999

Trade Facilitation in relation to Development


WTO Secretariat

11 March 1999

Linkages between the Agreement on Customs Valuation and Trade Facilitation


WTO Secretariat

29 March 1999

Background note

(Inventory of delegations’ suggestions)


Republic of Korea

6 April 1999

Revision of the Customs Act of Korea for Trade Facilitation

(National Experience Paper)



8 April 1999

Trade Facilitation

(Overview of relevant UNCTAD activities)


WTO Secretariat

14 April 1999

Contributions received from other WTO bodies


Republic of Korea

15 April 1999

Customs Administration and Trade Facilitation

(Proposal for future WTO work)



23 April 1999

Trade Facilitation — Proposal by Japan



4 May 1999

Role of Electronic Reporting in Trade Facilitation


WTO Secretariat

12 May 1999

Factual Summary of the informal meetings of the Council for Trade in Goods in September and December 1998 and April 1999



8 June 1999

The UN/ECE CEFACT's Trade Facilitation Work

Trade Facilitation in the preparatory work for the Seattle Ministerial Conference back to top

In the preparatory work for the Seattle Ministerial Conference, a number of Members presented proposals on trade facilitation in the General Council.

  • EC (WT/GC/W/190) (download in Microsoft Word format, 2 pages, 35KB)

  • Japan (WT/GC/W/257) (download in Microsoft Word format, 3 pages, 41KB)

  • Switzerland (WT/GC/W/264) (download in Microsoft Word format, 1 page, 32KB)

  • United States (WT/GC/W/254) (download in Microsoft Word format, 3 pages, 39KB)

Some Members called for the launch of negotiations at Seattle to establish a framework of rules and disciplines, or to strengthen and elaborate on existing WTO rules (e.g. Articles VIII and X GATT 1994) with the objective of alleviating administrative and procedural burdens on traders. Such negotiations were to be built upon WTO principles and would be aimed at maximizing transparency, expediting the release of goods and reducing, simplifying, and as appropriate modernizing and harmonizing border-crossing requirements, procedures and formalities.
It was proposed to develop and implement a capacity building programme in conjunction with the design of WTO disciplines with the aim of ensuring that all members are able to implement the negotiated rules and disciplines.
Other Members preferred to continue with the exploratory and analytical work started at Singapore, and believed that there was no need for additional WTO obligations. In this context, it was argued that reform and improvement of customs and trade administration were not contingent upon new disciplines, and that technical co-operation efforts should be stepped up to help developing countries with the improvement of their infrastructure for trade transactions.