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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Mar16/05)
11 March 2016
Third World Network


TFA ratified by 70 WTO members to date, PCTF told
Published in SUNS #8195 dated 7 March 2016


Geneva, 4 Mar (Kanaga Raja) -- Members of the World Trade Organization were urged on Thursday (3 March), at a meeting of the Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation (PCTF), to speed up their ratifications to enable the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) to enter into force, and start preparing for its entry into force.

The meeting of the Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation also heard several members reporting on their efforts in ratifying the TFA.

According to trade officials, to date, 70 WTO members have ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement, with 21 ratifications being received since the last meeting of the Preparatory Committee in mid-October last year.

The TFA must be ratified by two-thirds of the WTO's membership (162 as of 30 November 2015) in order for it to enter into force.

The Chair of the Preparatory Committee, Ambassador Esteban Conejos of the Philippines, informed members that the WTO has now received 81 "Category A" notifications.

Category A contains provisions that a developing country Member designates for implementation upon entry into force of the TFA, or in the case of a least developed country Member within one year after entry into force.

"What is even more encouraging is that we also started receiving a growing number of B and C notifications," Ambassador Conejos said.

"This is especially important since we are getting closer to seeing the Trade Facilitation Agreement enter into force - which equally shortens the remaining time for submitting B and C-related inputs," he added.

Category B contains provisions that a developing country Member or a least developed country Member designates for implementation on a date after a transitional period of time following the entry into force of the TFA.

Category C contains provisions that a developing country Member or a least developed country Member designates for implementation on a date after a transitional period of time following the entry into force of the TFA and requiring the acquisition of implementation capacity through the provision of assistance and support for capacity-building.

Developing countries are to submit their Category B and C notifications upon entry into force of the TFA. The LDCs have been given an additional year after entry into force to submit their notifications, trade officials said.

According to trade officials, Members were urged to start preparing for the entry into force of the TFA by notifying to the WTO what their technical assistance and capacity-building needs are.

According to trade officials, Georgia, the Solomon Islands and Zambia have submitted their Category B and C notifications.

Brazil informed the Committee that the TFA was approved by the Chamber of Deputies on 18 February and that it was now before the Senate for approval.

The government has taken preparatory steps to implement the TFA provisions relating to the single window program, electronic declaration of goods, authorized operators, and others aimed at reducing transaction costs.

El Salvador advised that its legislative assembly had ratified the TFA on 4 February and that the action was published in the country's official gazette, thus completing its domestic acceptance procedures. It hopes to deposit its instrument of acceptance with the WTO shortly.

Nepal recalled that it had submitted its Category A notification in October 2015 and that it was taking steps to secure ratification of the TFA soon.

However, it needed substantial technical and financial assistance; otherwise it would be impossible to carry out the implementation of the TFA.

The establishment of the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) is helpful in this respect but is not sufficient to respond to the needs of landlocked LDCs, it said.

The mandate of the TFAF needs to be revised and funding needs to be substantially scaled up if WTO members really want this mechanism to be helpful.

Nepal proposed that a workshop be organized to bring donors and recipient countries together to discuss how to mobilize support.

(According to trade officials, a Trade Facilitation Implementation Support seminar is to take place at the WTO on 4 March.)

According to trade officials, the European Union, Pakistan and China expressed support for the TFA, and its importance in reducing border costs and promoting trade. They encouraged members that have not done so to ratify the TFA and to submit their notifications.

The next meeting of the PCTF is scheduled to take place on 9 June. +

 


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