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World Trade Organisation awaits four ratifications for implementation of facilitation agreement

By Femi Adekoya   |   11 January 2017   |   2:57 am
WTO

WTO

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has stated that the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement is imminent, as only four more ratifications are needed.

Indeed, for developing countries that have ratified or will ratify the Agreement the entry into force results in important obligations, a move Ghana has taken ahead of Nigeria.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) sets forth measures to expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders, as well as reducing the related costs.

For developing countries under the TFA, their exports are expected to grow between 14 per cent and 22 per cent while becoming more diversified, while companies are more likely to become more profitable which should encourage domestic investment.

In addition, foreign direct investment is likely to be attracted to countries that fully implement the TFA. Finally, increased trade means better employment prospects for workers and greater revenue collection by the government.

As of yesterday, 106 WTO members have deposited their instruments of acceptance with the WTO Secretariat. Only six additional ratifications are needed to bring the Trade Facilitation Agreement into imminent effect within the next month(s).

Upon the entry into force of the Agreement, WTO Members that have ratified it, whether developed, developing countries or least developed countries, are supposed to have in place a national trade facilitation committee responsible for the coordination and implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

With the imminent entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, developing countries that have ratified the Agreement are under obligation to undertake the following steps: immediate notification of provisions designated under Category A, implementation of the measures designated under Category A, immediate notification of the provisions under Category B and C and their corresponding indicative dates for implementation.

To aid facilitation, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) hopes to leverage its long-standing expertise and experience in trade facilitation to provide technical assistance and capacity-building support to its members, including in the establishment of national trade and transport facilitation committees, gap analysis needs assessments, trade facilitation roadmaps, transit agreements and customs automation through its UNCTAD Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) programme as well as Trade Portals.

In 2016, UNCTAD launched the Empowerment Programme for National Trade Facilitation Committees, which provides an intensive professional training for the Secretariat and the members of national trade facilitation committees.

The main objective is to help them implement, in a coordinated manner, trade facilitation reforms, including the provisions of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. Fifteen developing countries and least developed countries are currently conducting the Empowerment Programme.


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