Background on Trade
States has been working closely with key
trading partners of all development levels to move the Trade Facilitations
forward. Red tape and unnecessary
formalities at the border can wipe away any gains made in improving market
access through lower tariffs, and uncertainty about import requirements, hidden
fees, and slow border release times are among the non-tariff barriers most
frequently cited by exporters worldwide.
The negotiations are addressing these matters head-on.
and medium-sized exporters are particularly harmed by opaque customs procedures,
or an unexpected inability to get custom clearance of a critical shipment to an
important customer in an international market. The negotiations are on course for
results that could decrease costs and enhance market access opportunities for
small businesses, and improve the ability of small businesses to be full
participants in the global market place.
development boost could also result from the Trade Facilitation negotiations,
bringing about results that will diminish corruption and improve border
efficiencies—key elements for full participation in today’s global just-in-time
economy. The need for rules-based
reform at the border has historically held back growth in trade between
developing countries. In this
context, the negotiations are also aimed at improving the effectiveness of the
vast amounts of technical assistance being provided in this area
the stage for intensifying the WTO negotiations on Trade Facilitation (TF) and
moving toward a conclusion in 2006.
Significantly, the ministers endorsed recommendations by the Trade
Facilitation Negotiating Group.
The WTO negotiations on Trade
Facilitation were launched as part of the Doha round of negotiations, in
accordance with a decision taken by Members in July 2004. The negotiations are aimed at clarifying
and improving the WTO rules governing customs procedures, with the objective to
enhance the transparency and efficiency of how goods cross the border. The negotiating mandate also includes
work on enhancing technical assistance and improving cooperation between customs
The current WTO rules governing
border procedures date back to 1947, and are ripe for updating and modernizing
through the ongoing negotiations.
More than 50 proposals for new rules have been submitted. Examples include providing for the use
the Internet to make more easily available the importing requirements of WTO
Members, establishing expedited treatment for express shipments, and improving
procedural fairness for traders.