WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement enters into force

On 22 February 2017, the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), the most important deal concluded on the subject since the establishment of the World Trade Organization in 1995, entered into force after reaching the threshold of 110 WTO members required for its immediate entry into force thanks to the ratifications by Chad, Jordan, Oman and Rwanda. The agreement was concluded in Bali in 2013, during the WTO Ministerial Conference.

The aim of the agreement is to simplify and clarify international import and export procedures, it will facilitate trade-related administration and possibly make it cheaper. Moreover, it will provide an important boost to global economic growth. In addition, EU authorities will play a core role in the implementation of this agreement in order to progress in trade facilitation both within the EU and at an international level.

Furthermore, the TFA will improve transparency as well as it will increase possibilities for small and medium-sized companies to participate in global value chains, reducing corruption too.

Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade, affirmed: “Better border procedures and faster, smoother trade flows will revitalize global trade to the benefit of citizens and businesses in all parts of the world. Small companies, that have hard time navigating daily bureaucracy and complicated rules, will be major winners.”

Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said: “Trade is a key driver for sustainable development. The new agreement will help tapping the huge potential of trade. I am ready to assist our partner countries to make the most of this agreement.”

However, the EU hopes this agreement will play a significant role in increasing developing countries’ involvement in global value chains, this is why it committed 400 million euro to assist them.

The EU has been one of the promoters of the deal and led the efforts towards its conclusion. After the ratification of the deal by the Council and the European Parliament in 2015, the EU has always called for the ratification of the agreement by other WTO Members.

Negotiations on this agreement started with the Doha Development Agenda. Then, at the end of 2013, WTO Members decided to prioritize a stand-alone deal that involves all members of the WTO.


Davide Scavuzzo