The FINANCIAL — Argentina, host of the 11th Ministerial Conference recently held in Buenos Aires, has completed its ratification process for the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
Argentina’s WTO ambassador Hector Marcelo Cima submitted his country’s instrument of acceptance to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on 22 January. Argentina is the 128th WTO member to have done so.
“Argentina’s ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement reflects our commitment to reforms for a reliable, productive and sustainable environment for growth, employment and development,” Ambassador Cima said. “It is also a firm gesture of support for multilateralism and the shared objective of pursuing fair trade based on clear rules,” he said.
Earlier, Argentina had submitted its Category notifications, outlining which substantive provisions of the TFA it intends to implement immediately or after a transitional period.
The TFA entered into force on 22 February 2017 following its ratification by two-thirds of the WTO membership. In addition to Argentina, five more members have ratified the TFA since the last meeting of the WTO Trade Facilitation Committee on 3 November. These are the Central African Republic, Israel, Indonesia, South Africa, and Antigua and Barbuda.
Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.
The full implementation of the TFA is estimated to reduce global trade costs by an average of 14.3%, with African countries and least-developed countries (LDCs) forecast to enjoy the biggest average reduction in trade costs. Furthermore, the TFA is forecast to add up to 2.7% a year to world export growth and more than 0.5% a year to world GDP growth over the 2015-30 horizon, according to WTO.
The TFA broke new ground for developing and least-developed countries in the way it will be implemented. For the first time in WTO history, the requirement to implement the Agreement was directly linked to the capacity of the country to do so. In addition, the Agreement states that assistance and support should be provided to help them achieve that capacity.
A Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) was also created at the request of developing and least-developed country members to help ensure that they receive the assistance needed to reap the full benefits of the TFA and to support the ultimate goal of full implementation of the new agreement by all members.
At the 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, the TFAF together with its partner organizations held a side event where public and private sector leaders exchanged insights on implementing the TFA. Speakers highlighted the importance of local ownership of reform plans, multi-stakeholder cooperation, and capacity building to successfully implement the Agreement.