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February 19, 2020

Many least developed countries moving slowly on WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

At this week’s meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Trade Facilitation Canada, China, the European Union, Japan, the Russian Federation and the United States took the floor to remind members to submit information to the WTO about implementation timelines, trade procedures, contact points and other details required under the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

The U.S. also drew attention to the upcoming deadline of February 22 for least-developed countries (LDCs) to notify definitive dates when they would implement certain TFA provisions for which they required transition periods.

Out of 29 LDCs that are required to submit their transition period notification mentioned above by February 22, nine had been received so far according to the WTO Secretariat report presented at the meeting. The deadline for developing countries to make the same notification had been set two years ago.

As of February 11, the rate of implemented commitments under the TFA stood at 64.7 per cent. Broken down by level of development, this equates to a 100 per cent rate of implementation by developed members, 63.9 per cent among developing members and 29.6 per cent among LDCs.

Full implementation of the Agreement, which seeks to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders, is forecast to slash members’ trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent, with developing and least-developed countries having the most to gain, according to a 2015 study carried out by WTO economists. The TFA is also likely to reduce the time needed to import goods by over a day and a half and to export goods by almost two days, representing a reduction of 47 per cent and 91 per cent respectively over the current average.

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