WASHINGTON—Six more countries ratified the Word Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, a pact aimed at reducing trade barriers and eliminating border transaction costs to ease the movement of goods around the world.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Saturday that Norway, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Brunei, Zambia and Ukraine have ratified the pact, bringing the total number of WTO member countries that have given their approval to the agreement to 63 (which includes the 28-member state bloc of the European Union.)
“We made significant progress toward the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, promising systemic reforms that will allow developing countries to enjoy sustainable economic development through trade,” Froman said at the close of the WTO ministerial in Nairobi, Kenya.
The U.S. also unveiled a new $50 million multi-country donor partnership with the private sector to help developing countries and LDCs implement reforms of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
The new Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation is an agreement between the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom and brings together global businesses and international institutions such as the World Economic Forum, the International Chamber of Commerce and the Center for International Private Enterprise, according to a USTR fact sheet
“The United States has mobilized $50 million for the initiative over five years. Based on contributions identified so far, the GATF is the largest pool of resources dedicated to TFA implementation,” USTR said.
The TFA pact, which was reached at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, would expedite the release of goods, establish a single transaction point for importers and exporters to submit documentation and/or data requirements through a single entry point of the participating authorities or agencies post-clearance. It would also allow for WTO members to apply streamlined customs procedures and uniform documentation requirements for release and clearance of goods.
It will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted the agreement. The WTO now has 161 members, with the accession of Kazakhstan and Liberia pending.
The WTO estimates full implementation could reduce global trade costs “by an average of 14.5 percent,” for its 161 members, as previously reported. The global trade body also noted that least-developed countries, which include apparel exporters Bangladesh and Cambodia, are expected to see the biggest average reductions, of around 16.7 percent.
According to a recent WTO report, the developing country export gains could range as high as $1.1 trillion to $1.8 trillion.
Separately, Froman also said that WTO members reached a multilateral agreement on agriculture in Nairobi that includes the elimination of export subsidies, new export financing support and the elimination of export monopoly powers of agriculture state trading enterprises.