Historical Meeting of the WCO Trade Facilitation Agreement Working Group

06 mars 2017

Within two weeks after entry into force of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), the World Customs Organization (WCO) Trade Facilitation Agreement Working Group (TFAWG) met for the seventh time on 6 March 2017 in Brussels at the WCO’s Headquarters.

The TFA entered into force after the threshold, 110 WTO Members needed to accept the TFA, was met and even exceeded on 22 February 2017. Rwanda, Oman, Chad and Jordan submitted their instruments of acceptance to the WTO, bringing the total number of ratifications to 112.  Since then, the number has grown to 113, with the ratification submission from the Dominican Republic.  The TFA will improve economic competitiveness, contribute to economic growth and alleviate poverty.

Full implementation of the TFA is forecast to slash trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent, with developing countries having the most to gain, according to a 2015 study carried out by WTO economists. The TFA is expected to reduce the time needed to import goods by over a day and a half and to export goods by almost two days, representing a reduction of 47 per cent and 91 per cent respectively over the current average.

Hundreds of delegates, representing Customs, other Border Agencies and Trade Ministries from WCO Members, Observers from several International Organizations, and Private Sector participants discussed TFA developments within the WTO and WCO. They also exchanged ideas about Private Sector involvement in the implementation of the TFA and specific trade facilitation provisions in the context of digital Customs that will enhance transparency and integrity in international trade supply chains.

During discussions on making information available through the internet and the update of the WCO’s Transparency and Predictability Guidelines, delegates emphasized the importance of integrity. They appreciated that the update included a section dedicated to integrity, as they considered it to be a crucial element in enhancing trade facilitation.

The TFAWG will be joined by the Capacity Building Committee on 7 March 2017 to discuss the WCO’s Mercator Programme that has been designed to drive the TFA implementation in developing and least developed countries. The Programme brings together all trade facilitation related WCO instruments and tools, such as the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) on the simplification and harmonization of Customs procedures. The RKC contains all the standards required for TFA implementation and is supported by several tools that will help Members take the necessary practical steps.