Mainstreaming the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement : WCO Asia/Pacific Regional Online Workshop

23 April 2021

Over 80 participants from 23 Member administrations participated in the WCO Asia/Pacific Regional Online Workshop on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which took place from 19 to 21 April 2021. The Workshop was organized with the Regional Office for Capacity Building for the Asia/Pacific (ROCB A/P) and with the financial support of the Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF) of Japan.

This first in the third round of regional TFA workshops took stock of the TFA developments four years after its entry into force, with the latest updates provided by the World Trade Organization. It was aimed at discussing the success stories and the challenges Members are facing today, as well as forms of support provided through the WCO Mercator Programme. Delegates explored implementation monitoring methods at a national level by using WCO tools such as the Time Release Study. Furthermore, the Workshop explored how the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted the international trade facilitation agenda and which measures will be particularly relevant for the successful movement of vaccines across borders.

Presenters from 16 Member administrations shared information on their national practices in implementing the different TFA measures, while three Mercator Programme Advisors provided their insights and facilitated the Workshop alongside the Secretariat experts.

Key messages emanating from this event are around the greater need for partnerships: among Customs administrations, with other government agencies and with the private sector. The participants agreed that momentum for the accelerated pace of automation during the pandemic should be maintained and further strengthened in the period ahead. Finally, enhanced collaboration within the National Committees on Trade Facilitation is critical, especially for accelerating the implementation of border agency cooperation and Single Window solutions.