Li Xuehua

  Since the entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement five years ago, it has effectively promoted the development of global trade and enhanced the resilience of the global supply chain, especially the least developed countries have fully benefited from it.

The results in the past five years have shown that reducing trade barriers and advocating multilateralism are beneficial to the development and recovery of the world economy.

  On February 22, the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) ushered in the 5th anniversary of its official entry into force.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that over the past five years, WTO members have made steady progress in implementing the landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement, which will help Strengthening the resilience of global supply chains, global trade flows are ready for a post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

  Trade facilitation, that is, the promotion of imports and exports through simplification of procedures and formalities, harmonization of applicable laws and regulations, standardization and improvement of infrastructure, etc., is an important issue in the world trading system.

  WTO members concluded negotiations on the Trade Facilitation Agreement at the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, which entered into force on 22 February 2017 after being ratified by two-thirds of WTO members.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement contains provisions to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit, as well as measures for effective cooperation between customs and other relevant authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.

  The Trade Facilitation Agreement specifically established provisions to assist developing countries and LDCs in accessing technical assistance and capacity building.

According to the "Trade Facilitation Agreement", from the date of entry into force of the agreement, developed country members must implement all the provisions of the agreement, while developing country and least developed country members can determine the implementation timetable according to their actual conditions, and seek to Relevant assistance and support to gain implementation capacity.

This is the first WTO agreement to include such a clause.

  As of December 2021, 154 of the 162 WTO members have ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

According to the requirements of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, each member is required to notify the WTO of the release of information on import, export and transit procedures, the operational details of the single window, the use of customs brokers, and the details of customs information exchange contact points. Trade Facilitation Committee.

As of February 22, 2022, the notifications submitted by members indicated that 74.3% of the TFA obligations had been committed.

The WTO Committee on Trade Facilitation conducted its first assessment of members' implementation of the agreement from 22 February 2017 to 31 October 2021.

The evaluation report indicated that human resources and training, assistance with the revision or implementation of laws and regulations, and the development of information and communication technologies were the most frequent requests for technical assistance and capacity-building from developing countries and LDCs.

  Trade facilitation has effectively promoted the development of global trade.

The WTO estimates that the full implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement can reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3% and increase global trade by up to $1 trillion a year, with least developed countries benefiting the most.

The WTO has also established the Trade Facilitation Agreement Fund to ensure that developing countries and LDCs receive the assistance they need to fully benefit from the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

  The efforts of WTO members to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement over the past five years have enhanced the resilience of global supply chains and enabled the Trade Facilitation Agreement to play a vital role in the post-pandemic global economic recovery. effect.

Supply chain resilience is more important than ever during the economic recovery in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Border reforms undertaken by WTO members to meet their Trade Facilitation Agreement commitments, such as streamlining trade procedures, speeding up the approval of perishable goods, and establishing information portals, have helped ensure that food, vaccines, medical products and Other necessities continued to reach those in need in difficult circumstances.

Tonga has used Article 7.8 of the Trade Facilitation Agreement to facilitate the import of Covid-19 vaccines, while Paraguay and the European Union have enabled remote work and continuous working due to the establishment of digital processes during the pandemic.

  The remarkable achievements in the five years since the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement have once again demonstrated that reducing trade barriers and advocating multilateralism are beneficial to the development and recovery of the world economy.

Iweala said that there is still a lot of work to be done to promote trade facilitation, and the full implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement will help many developing economies and small and medium-sized enterprises that are deeply affected by the epidemic to better withstand future shocks. necessary.