The Analysis of Section I of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement was developed to provide relevant information and guidance in terms of preparing for the implementation of the TFA provisions by using WCO instruments and tools, to ensure a harmonized approach by Customs administrations, and to present the basis for the TFA Implementation Guidance web tool, which has been launched in May 2014 and is available on the WCO web site.
The Analysis is considered to be a living document, as new instruments are being developed, the existing ones updated and as Members’ experiences are being explored.
The Analysis shows a high level of consistency between the TFA provisions and more than 40 WCO instruments and tools. The Analysis also shows that the WCO standards and tools to a large extent address the TFA requirements in terms of cooperation and coordination with other border agencies. It also points to the areas possibly needing more guidance.
The Analysis brings together all relevant outcomes of the discussions on the different TFA provisions which took place in the WCO working bodies (Working Group on WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFAWG), Permanent Technical Committee (PTC), Joint PTC/Enforcement Committee, Information Management Sub-Committee (IMSC), etc), as well as within the Secretariat. It also takes into consideration the requirements of other stakeholders, and identifies the authorities concerned for each of the provisions. Having in mind the important role that the sanitary and phytosanitary agencies will also play in the implementation of the TFA, the Analysis incorporates information on the links between the TFA and the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), based on an Information Note prepared by the WTO Secretariat (“The Relationship Between the Trade Facilitation Agreement and the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures” 1). It also incorporates information on the links between the TFA and the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement). This information is important for raising awareness of the WTO commitments where the different government authorities have similar responsibilities. Both the TBT and the SPS Agreements are specifically mentioned in Paragraph 6 of Article 24 of the TFA.
With the objective of making it more user-friendly for those other than Customs, the Analysis explains in more detail how each of the relevant WCO instruments and tools fit into the context of TFA implementation and what type of standards and guidance they can provide for each of the provisions.
The Analysis is structured under the following columns:
- “Article in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (WT/L/931)”: For ease of reference, the legally scrubbed text of the TFA has been included in the first column of the Analysis.
- “WCO Instruments, Tools, Guidelines (non exhaustive)”: The WCO instruments and tools developed over the past years provide ample standards and guidance adequate for implementing the TFA provisions. In this column, more specificity is provided in references to the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC). It is important to bear in mind that wherever a reference is made to the RKC, this refers to both the Legal Text and the Guidelines.
This column however also provides references to many other WCO instruments and tools available and relevant for implementation of the individual TFA provisions. Some of these tools are currently under revision. The instruments and tools mentioned include:
- Istanbul, A.T.A, Nairobi, Johannesburg and other conventions, numerous recommendations, the SAFE Framework of Standards, etc.
- Revised Arusha Declaration and the Niamey Declaration;
- Compendiums on Single Window (SWC), Risk Management, Post-Clearance Audit, Customs Valuation, Operational Practices and Seizures (COPES) etc;
- Guidelines on Time Release Study (TRS), Immediate Release, Binding Origin Information, Valuation Controls, Customs Laboratories, Transit, Coordinated Border Management, Customs International Benchmarking Manual, Model Bilateral Agreement, SAFE Package, etc.
- IT standards, tools and repositories such as the Data Model, TRS on-line software, Customs Enforcement Network, SW Information Store on the WCO web site etc.
- “Remarks”: The information in this column is an attempt to shed more light on the TFA provisions and how they relate to the WCO instruments and tools, as well as which and to what extent they can be used to implement the TFA.
This is the most important part of the Analysis which includes four different types of remarks:
- “Overview”: Includes a short description of the TFA text, even though the full text of the TFA is included in column 1. The Overview also mentions cross-references with other articles.
- “Links with other WTO agreements (SPS, TBT and Valuation), where applicable”: The Analysis includes links between the TFA and the SPS, TBT and Valuation Agreements.
- “Links with WCO instruments and tools”: This has been elaborated in more detail to include more specificity and clarity on how the WCO instruments and tools fit into the context of TFA implementation. In order to make the Analysis more user-friendly for those other than Customs, these remarks contain also brief descriptions of the contents of these instruments/tools.
- “ICT considerations, where applicable”: The important role which information and communication technologies will play in TFA implementation has been stressed on numerous occasions. The Information Management Sub-Committee (IMSC) had therefore at its 67th Meeting in June 2014 discussed in more detail the ICT considerations for the individual TFA provisions. This has been included throughout the Analysis, where applicable (for more detail, see IMSC document PM0358).
- “Possible implications”: Some areas have been identified as possibly needing more guidance. Those are indicated in this column.
- “WCO Body concerned”: The comprehensive WCO structure provides the ideal forums for discussions on any issues and for sharing Members’ experiences. This column indicates WCO bodies which could be discussing the same WTO provisions from different perspectives and with different profiles of delegates, ensuring a coherent approach in implementing the individual TFA provisions.
- “Authorities concerned”: This column caters for the need to clarify which government stakeholders will have an important role to play and with which it will be necessary to enhance cooperation and coordination. For the purpose of achieving consistency, the authorities concerned are in line with the ones identified by the WTO and contained in the WTO Self-Assessment Guide (WTO doc. TN/TF/W/143/Rev.7 2).
The Analysis retains what used to be Article 13 (Institutional arrangements) of Section I, but which has after the legal scrubbing of the Agreement been moved to the new Section III and has become Article 23. Due to the different nature of these provisions to those of Section I, the Analysis of Article 23 only contains a number of remarks.
1 The Information Note “The Relationship Between the Trade Facilitation Agreement and the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures” can be found at the following link on the WTO web site: http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/sps_e/tf_sps_e.pdf
2 The WTO Self-Assessment Guide can be found at the following link on the WTO web site: here