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Today’s Top Headlines

Singapore Supports WTO's Trade Facilitation Initiative

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

20 June 2014

Singapore has notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it will implement all the operational provisions of the WTO's Agreement on Trade Facilitation (ATF) immediately when the ATF comes into force, according to a statement from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The ATF is an agreement among WTO members that aims to reduce red tape in cross-border trade by simplifying customs and border procedures. The ATF was concluded at the WTO's 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali in December 2013 after more than nine years of negotiations. When the ATF is implemented, businesses can expect to see trade costs decrease by 10 to 15 percent, according to OECD estimates, and a boost to the world economy of more than USD1 trillion, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The economic benefits of trade facilitation are real and wide-ranging. Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said transparent and efficient customs procedures help support business supply chains, attract foreign investment, and boost domestic development. Implementing the ATF will also facilitate greater economic integration and growth – goals that are especially pertinent to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Asia Pacific region.

Besides Singapore, a number of other WTO members, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong (China), Mexico, and South Korea, have also notified the WTO of their respective commitments to the ATF. For businesses and economies to meaningfully reap the benefits of the ATF, it is important that all WTO members notify their commitments and ratify the agreement as quickly as possible, the MTI said.

TAGS: Asia Pacific | investment | business | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | China | Colombia | Mexico | Singapore | Costa Rica | Hong Kong | trade

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