Washington, D.C., Apr 11, 2014 – U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and USAID Administrator Shah met with Ministers, Development Banks, and other representatives to discuss donor efforts to help developing countries implement the new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and ensure coordination among donor entities.
“We will continue to work with other donors and with WTO Members to help developing countries fully implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, so that all traders can benefit from the reduction in customs costs, delays, and other obstacles to the flow of goods which will result from its implementation,” said Ambassador Froman.
Administrator Shah also remarked that “Today’s meeting offered donors a chance to share best practices and updates about the ways they are empowering developing country businesses — small and large — to participate in and benefit from expanded trade opportunities. Through better coordination, we can help promote development and new economic opportunities for the world’s most vulnerable people.”
Tackling inefficiencies and shortening delays in clearing goods can reduce the cost of getting goods to market by up to 15 percent according to the OECD, with positive effects on competitiveness and consumer welfare. Donor efforts are already contributing to developing countries implementing broad-based customs reforms under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. This meeting provided an opportunity for donor institutions to share information on the broad range of trade capacity building projects that are already in place, and to discuss donor coordination in the future to ensure full implementation of the WTO Agreement.
Ministers concluded negotiations on the historic Trade Facilitation Agreement at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013. The new WTO Agreement creates binding commitments across 160 WTO Members to expedite movement, release and clearance of goods, improve cooperation among WTO Members on customs matters, and help developing countries fully implement the obligations. The agreement will increase customs efficiency and effective collection of revenue, and help small businesses access new export opportunities through measures like increased transparency in customs practices, reduction of documentary requirements, and processing of documents before goods arrive.
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The text adopted in Bali is not final, although the substance will not change. It will be checked and corrected to ensure the language is legally correct, aiming for the WTO General Council to adopt it by 31 July 2014.
It is a multilateral deal to simplify customs procedures. The objectives are: to speed up customs procedures; make trade easier, faster and cheaper; provide clarity, efficiency and transparency; reduce bureaucracy and corruption, and use technological advances.
Part of the deal involves assistance for developing and least developed countries to update their infrastructure, train customs officials, or for any other cost associated with implementing the agreement.
The benefits to the world economy are calculated to be between $ 400 billion and $1 trillion by reducing costs of trade by between 10% and 15%, increasing trade flows and revenue collection, creating a stable business environment and attracting foreign investment.