Today, the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has formally entered into force. This will cut total trade costs for about 14% on average, and will result in massive savings of over 1 trillion USD annual to economies, the majority of which will accrue to developing economies.
“The first multilateral trade agreement concluded since the WTO was established 20 years ago, has the potential to greatly reduce the regulatory and procedural time and costs of international trade” said UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach. “We at UNECE pledge our full support to countries in implementing this Agreement, through the wide range of UN Trade Facilitation recommendations, standards and tools developed by our UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), all of which are freely available to member States” he added. These instruments play a significant role in facilitating the access of developing and least-developed countries to global supply chains.
The focus now must move to the actual implementation of the measures in the Agreement. UNECE has put in place a rich package of trade facilitation instruments that will be a major help to countries in the technical implementation of the Agreement. These range from standards on information exchange and e-business, recommendations on process such as Single Window, to information tools such as the UN Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide, which generate very tangible benefits. For example, implementation of the Single Window for Trade (UNECE Recommendation 33) in Thailand, along with various other trade facilitation measures, has brought about estimated annual savings of US$ 1.5 billion. And in Ukraine, the establishment of a Port Community System in 2014 in Odessa, with UNECE advice and using UNECE and UNCEFACT best-practice recommendations and standards, brought economic gains for business estimated in the magnitude of US$ 185.5 million per year. The volume of trade in the port registered a 15% increase, with a decrease of the time needed for clearing containers from 14:15 hours in 2014 to 2:18 hours in 2016.
UNECE will work closely with its sister organizations in the UN to ensure a coordinated and focused delivery of support to countries in their efforts to achieve their commitments under the Agreement. “We already have several mechanisms to ensure a joined-up delivery of support to countries, including the WTO Annex D Group and the Global Facilitation Partnership. We will fully utilize such mechanisms, with each organization focusing on its core niche and areas of competence”, Mr. Friis Bach concluded.
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