Two more WTO TFA Ratifications to go before the WTO TFA enters into Force; What, Next? The WCO Mercator Programme is ready to support National Committees on Trade Facilitation!

03 February 2017

The first International Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees was held from 23 – 27 January 2017, at the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland. The Forum was co-organized, amongst others, by WCO, UNCTAD, WTO, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the World Bank.  The Forum brought together over 300 participants from the Private Sector, Customs Administrations, Ministries of Trade, Regional Organizations and International Organizations. The participants were welcomed by the Secretary General of UNCTAD, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, who made opening remarks followed by the opening remarks of Director General of the WTO, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo, and three other speakers including Ms. Ana Hinojosa, Director, Compliance and Facilitation Directorate, WCO.

In their introductory remarks, senior officials spoke of the importance of simplifying, harmonizing and standardizing border procedures in order to expedite the clearance and movement of goods and people as a key contributor to trade-led economic and social development. Ms Hinojosa reiterated the importance of effective coordination and cooperation amongst border agencies in the implementation of the TFA and the WCO’s leadership in this regard.

The WTO TFA must be ratified by at least a 110 Member Countries before it enters into force; the number of ratifications is currently at 108. This forum was organized to discuss the road ahead for the National Committees on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) and its task to coordinate and facilitate the implementation of the TFA after it enters into force.  The one week event had discussions and various trade facilitation topics, inter alia, technical assistance and support for trade facilitation reforms, the role of regional and international organizations in the implementation of the TFA, the coordination amongst these organizations, the engagement of the private sector and all border agencies in the work of the NCTF and the specific role of NCTF’s in the evaluation and monitoring of trade facilitation reforms.

The Forum provided a venue for the presentation and discussion of the WCO’s TFA Implementation Guidance and the key instruments and tools, such as the SAFE Framework of Standards, the Coordinated Border Management Compendium, the WCO Data Model, the Single Window Compendium, the NCTF Guidance and the Time Release Study.   It also provided a platform to present the Mercator Programme through which the WCO supports Customs administrations and other border agencies in the effective implementation of the TFA. Through the generous contribution of her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of the United Kingdom, the WCO was in a position to sponsor the participation of 13 national delegations, many of whom are active partners in the tailor-made track of the Mercator Programme.   The WCO was honored to have collaborated with UNCTAD and other supporting organizations in delivering this landmark event on the eve of the coming-into-force of the TFA.