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Saving Money, Growing Trade, Raising Incomes Worldwide: The New WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Trade facilitation boosts trade by reducing costs and delays for traders, through measures that provide predictability, simplicity and uniformity in customs and other border procedures. It makes it easier for businesses big and small to participate in trade around the world – and to support jobs through that trade.

The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement creates binding commitments across 159(+) WTO Members to expedite movement, release and clearance of goods, improve cooperation among WTO Members on customs matters, and help developing countries fully implement the obligations. The agreement will increase customs efficiency and effective collection of revenue, and help small businesses access new export opportunities through measures like transparency in customs practices, reduction of documentary requirements, and processing of documents before goods arrive.

In the United States, American manufacturers, producers of perishable goods, freight forwarders, logistics providers, express carriers and entrepreneurs seeking to enter the export market particularly stand to benefit from this agreement. Looking around the world, the United States worked to negotiate provisions to help least-developed countries meet new obligations and gain their share of benefits in cost savings and income growth.

The cost savings of trade facilitation pay real dividends: The OECD estimates that for every one-percent reduction in global trade costs, global incomes go up by $40 billion – and that the new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement struck at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia can cut trade costs by almost 14.5 percent for low-income countries, 10 percent for high-income countries. Other studies estimate that significant trade facilitation like that supported in this agreement could increase global GDP by almost $1 trillion.

KEY DISCIPLINES ADDRESSED IN THE WTO TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT:

  • Publication of Laws, Regulations & Procedures
  • Internet Publication of Practical Steps to Import, Export and Transit Goods
  • Enquiry Point for Trade Information
  • Information on New Laws & Regulations Before their Implementation
  • Provision of Advance Rulings
  • Enhanced Right of Appeal
  • Notification of Detained Goods
  • Disciplines on Fees and Charges
  • Penalty Disciplines to Prevent Conflicts of Interest
  • Pre-Arrival Processing of Goods
  • Use of Electronic Payment
  • Use of Guarantees to Allow Rapid Release
  • Promoting Risk Management
  • Creation of Authorized Operator Schemes
  • Procedures for Expedited Shipments
  • Quick Release of Perishable Goods
  • Reduced Documents and Formalities
  • Utilizing Common Customs Standards
  • Promoting use of Single Window
  • Uniformity in Border Procedures & Documents
  • Temporary Admission of Goods
  • Simplified Transit Procedures
  • Customs Cooperation
  • Facilitate Developing Country Implementation

Visit www.wto.org for full agreement text.