A new initiative unveiled at the WTO on 22 July 2014 will help developing countries and least-developed countries reap the benefits of the WTO’s new Trade Facilitation Agreement, which was agreed at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013.
The new Facility will complement existing efforts by regional and multilateral agencies, bilateral donors, and other stakeholders to provide Trade Facilitation-related technical assistance and capacity-building support. It will act as a focal point for implementation efforts. It will become operational when the protocol to insert the Trade Facilitation Agreement into the existing regulatory framework is adopted by WTO Members. The functions of the Facility will include:
- supporting LDCs and developing countries to assess their specific needs and identify possible development partners to help them meet those needs
- ensuring the best possible conditions for the flow of information between donors and recipients through the creation of an information sharing platform for demand and supply of Trade Facilitation-related technical assistance
- disseminating best practice in implementation of Trade Facilitation measures
- providing support to find sources of implementation assistance, including formally requesting the Director-General to act as a facilitator in securing funds for specific project implementation
- providing grants for the preparation of projects in circumstances where a Member has identified a potential donor but has been unable to develop a project for that donor’s consideration, and is unable to find funding from other sources to support the preparation of a project proposal
- providing project implementation grants related to the implementation of Trade Facilitation Agreement provisions in circumstances where attempts to attract funding from other sources have failed. These grants will be limited to “soft infrastructure” projects, such as modernization of customs laws through consulting services, in-country workshops, or training of officials.
South Africa, on the other hand has warned of the concerns of developing countries being sidelined under a global trade deal, adding to fears India and some African states may block the landmark Bali agreement. South African Minister for Trade and Industry further intimated that the country would have no difficulty in implementing the trade facilitation agreement but said it would “go along with” the decisions made by its allies within the WTO. Source: WTO
- South Africa warns of cracks in landmark Bali trade agreement (FT.com)
- India to say no to WTO trade facilitation deal (business-standard.com)