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The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced on June 11, 2015, that 66 developing and least-developed country members have now submitted notifications to the WTO outlining which provisions of the new Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) they intend to implement upon entry into force of the pact.
The TFA will create binding commitments across all WTO members to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods and improve cooperation among WTO members in customs matters, forming part of international efforts under the Doha Round to cut tax barriers to trade on a global basis. In addition, the Agreement states that assistance and support should be provided to help least-developed countries (LDCs) implement the TFA.
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 of 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).
At the June 11 meeting of the WTO's Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation (PCTF), the chairman, Ambassador Esteban Conejos of the Philippines, said the number of "Category A" notifications received is an "encouraging sign of members' continued commitment" to the TFA.
"I am especially heartened to see the number of LDC notifications on the rise with three additional LDC submissions (Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania)," the chairman added.
In addition to the three LDCs, new Category A notifications have been received from Dominica, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The TFA will only enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership (108 members) have formally accepted the Agreement. To date, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States, Mauritius, Malaysia, Japan, and Australia have ratified the TFA, representing six percent of the total needed to ensure entry into force.
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