The World Trade Organization (WTO) has concluded negotiations on the landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) following ratification by two-thirds of its members (112 out of 164). It entered into force on 22nd February 2017.
Trade facilitation looks at how procedures and controls governing the movement of goods across national borders can be improved to reduce associated cost burdens and maximise efficiency, while safeguarding legitimate regulatory objectives.
Estimates show that the full implementation of the TFA could reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3% and boost global trade by up to $1 trillion per year, with the biggest gains in the poorest countries. For the first time in WTO history, the requirement to implement the Agreement is directly linked to the capacity of the country to do so. A Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) has been created to help ensure developing and least-developed countries obtain the assistance needed to reap the full benefits of the TFA.
What it means For Australia
Australia’s National Committee for Trade Facilitation, (NCTF) comprising DFAT, DIBP/ABF, DAWR, DIRD, DIIS, AFIF and other industry representatives, have held meetings over the past 18 months to progress Australia’s obligations under the WTO TFA, in advance of the Agreement becoming ratified.
This work has included: establishing the NCTF Terms of Reference; progressing Trade Facilitation Opportunities and Initiatives including - developments on Australian Trusted Trader Scheme; Mutual Recognition Agreements and Free Trade Agreements with partner countries; progressing Government Single Window; developing an Industry Hub webpage and Searchable Tariff; Industry Consultation on Regulatory Reform, Legislative Reform and Trade and Goods Compliance (CAG).
A swift implementation of the agreement will promote simplification of Customs procedures globally, and contribute to creating an even more collaborative approach in the contracting parties in supply chains on many levels. The link between advance cargo information for security and the data required to fulfil other regulatory requirements - such as cargo reporting and border clearance - is a clear benefit to all.
World trade Organization: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tradfa_e/tradfa_e.htm