The WTO has launched a new website which will serve as a focal point for members, donors, and others seeking information on the new Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF). The TFAF was created at the request of developing country and least-developed country (LDC) members to help ensure that they receive the assistance needed to reap the full benefits of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and to support the ultimate goal of full implementation of the new Agreement by all members. The TFAF will support these countries in assessing their specific needs and identifying possible development partners to help them meet those needs through a diverse number of activities.
The Facility was formally launched on 22 July 2014 by WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and became operational on 27 November 2014. The website can be accessed here! To benefit from this, developing and LDC members must notify the WTO which provisions they will implement when the Agreement enters into force or, in the case of LDCs, within one year after entry into force (Category A commitments); which provisions they will implement after a transitional period following the entry into force of the Agreement (Category B); and which provisions they will implement on a date after a transitional period following the entry into force of the Agreement and that require the acquisition of assistance and support for capacity building (Category C).
The aim of the TFAF is to help ensure that this assistance is provided to all those needing it. The website provides background on the Agreement and the TFAF, information on programmes that support implementation of the Agreement, as well as information on national contact points for trade facilitation in developing and LDC members.
The website also provides information on TFAF support related to the preparation of Category A, B and C commitments, assistance and support for capacity-building, and applications for TFAF grants where no other funding sources are available to developing and LDC countries to meet their implementation needs. The website is a “work in progress” and will be continuously updated to provide useful information for WTO members. Source: WTO
The World Customs Organization (WCO) has launched on its website the WCO Implementation Guidance for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation (ATF) to support WCO Members in their efforts to implement the ATF.
The Guidance presents the importance of WCO instruments and tools such as the Revised Kyoto Convention for ATF implementation.
The Guidance contains the following categories of information for each ATF Article:
- Text of ATF
- Relevant RKC standards and RKC Guidelines
- Other relevant WCO tools
- Member practices
- Performance indicators
The Guidance will be updated on a regular basis and a French version will be released shortly.
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It is anticipated that most Customs and Border Authorities have at least one common item on their national capacity building agenda’s for 2014 – the Agreement on Trade Facilitation. Many countries, being members of the WCO, would have already acceded to a level of commitment to the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC). This requires of them to introduce, at an agreed time, the principles of WCO standards and policies according to the level of their sovereign commitment.
The General Annex to the RKC is the bare minimum a country would be expected to implement in order to for it to be considered compliant with the RKC. From a trade perspective, this also indicates the extent to which your country’s leaders have committed itself towards ‘global integration’.
What the recent Trade Facilitation Agreement (ATF) in Bali does is bind member states to a compendium of requirements necessary for the enactment of certain conditions and obligations as set out in the various articles contained in the agreement. Countries should also note that certain of the ATF provisions include items under the Specific Annexes to the RKC. For a quick reference to see how the RKC and other WCO standards and conventions stack up to the ATF, refer to the WTO Trade Facilitation Toolkit by clicking the hyperlink.
In addition to this, the ATF also makes provision for ‘special and differential treatment’ in regard to developing and least developed countries (Refer to Section II to the WTO ATF).
In essence this allows those countries and opportunity of identifying their (capacity building) needs and setting themselves realistic targets for implementation and compliance to the ATF. To this end 3 Categories are identified for national states to consider in the event they are not at present in a position to accede to some or all of the ATF conditions.
The WCO has also prepared various tools which aim at assisting its members in assessing their national position in regard to the ATF. Members are likewise encouraged to regularly visit the WCO website for updates in this regard.
The following working papers are available from the WCO website and, for ease of access, are listed below together with their hyperlink to the WCO site –
Other related Trade Facilitation documentation can be found at the following link – WTO Trade Facilitation Negotiations
Text of the WTO Free Trade Agreement
WCO and WTO leaders meet in Geneva (WCO)
At the invitation of WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya met with Mr. Azevedo at WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on 20 January 2014. They agreed that close cooperation between the two organizations is vital for successful implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (ATF).
Secretary General Mikuriya emphasized the consistent and complementary nature between the ATF and the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC). He also described how the WCO Economic Competitiveness Package, that includes the RKC and all other Customs trade facilitation instruments, guidelines and best practices, will support implementation of ATF. Mr. Mikuriya also confirmed his readiness to involve other international organizations, development banks, donors and other stakeholders at a WCO forum to contribute to cooperation in support of the ATF.
Director General Azevedo was pleased to hear that the WCO was planning to publish an implementation tool to connect each provision of the ATF to WCO tools as well as a briefing document enabling Customs administrations to communicate with trade ministries. He expressed his willingness to leverage WCO expertise and experts for the WTO Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation as well as ATF needs assessment and implementation. Mr. Azevedo also suggested that the ATF provides another opportunity for the two organizations to enhance the good working relations that already exist in many areas beyond trade facilitation.
The two leaders also discussed how multilateral institutions could work on regional integration matters and agreed on the importance of adopting global standards and best practices to ensure connectivity at borders. Source: WCO