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5th Meeting of the TFA Working Group focuses on the importance of stakeholder cooperation for the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

08 marzo 2016

Around 180 delegates from Customs, trade and other ministries, the WTO and other international organisations, development partners, academia and business convened at the 5th Meeting of the TFA Working Group (TFAWG) on 29 February and 1 March 2016 in Brussels.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Ana Hinojosa, Director, Compliance and Facilitation (WCO) said that stakeholder cooperation was of paramount importance for effective and efficient border management processes to support the implementation of the TFA. She reminded delegates that the WCO had been, and always would be, fully committed to the trade facilitation agenda, having developed relevant tools and expertise.

The delegates appreciated the ongoing successful cooperation between the WTO and the WCO. The delegates to the TFAWG took note with interest of an update by the WTO Secretariat on the situation regarding TFA acceptances (70), notifications of Category A commitments (79) and B and C commitments (2). They also heard about the organisation of side events regarding trade facilitation at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15-18 December 2015. Several delegations shared their state of play concerning the acceptance of the TFA.

The WCO Secretariat provided feedback from the December 2015 WCO Policy Commission in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic where the TFA had been an important topic, culminating in a WCO Communication that emphasized the continued commitment of the global Customs community to trade facilitation. Delegates were also informed about the highly successful WCO side event hosted by the Kenya Revenue Authority at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference, bringing together several high level speakers.

A panel of distinguished participants from the Private Sector, the International Plant Protection Convention Secretariat and Brazilian Customs stressed the importance of stakeholder cooperation. The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OiE) subsequently informed the TFA Working Group about some of their activities in relation to trade facilitation.

Discussion also took place about work carried out under the Mercator Programme, including regional TFA workshops, expert accreditation workshops, e-Learning courses, National Committees on Trade Facilitation (NCTFs) and the strategic planning of mordernisation efforts for the successful implementation of of the TFA, e.g. in the area of exchange of information. Cameroon, Senegal, Colombia and the Private Sector supported these discussions by sharing their experiences.

Australia informed the meeting about their national practice regarding fees and charges imposed on or in connection with importation or exportation and the WCO Secretariat presented the results of the Scientific Sub-Committee and the impact of TFA Article 5.3 on Customs laboratories. In addition, the 5th TFA Working Group considered proposals by Mexico and the EU regarding the Annual Work Programme,

The International Chamber of Commerce informed the delegates about the launch of the Global Alliance on Trade Facilitation at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference.