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The Trade Facilitation Agreement

Traders from both developing and developed countries have long pointed to the vast amount of “red tape” that still exists in moving goods across borders, and which poses a particular burden on small and medium-sized enterprises. To address this, WTO Members concluded negotiations on a landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at their 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference and are now in the process of adopting measures needed to bring the Agreement into effect.

The TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.  The Agreement will help improve transparency, increase possibilities to participate in global value chains, and reduce the scope for corruption.

The TFA was the first Agreement concluded at the WTO by all of its Members.

 

Section I

Download the Agreement in full

Section I

Section I contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It clarifies and improves the relevant articles (V, VIII and X) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994. It also sets out provisions for customs cooperation.

Section II

Section II
13
General Principles
14
Categories of Provisions
15
Notification and Implementation of Category A
16
Notification of definitive dates for implementation of Category B and Category C
17
Early warning mechanism: extension of implementation dates for Provisions in Categories B and C
18
Implementation of Category B and Category C
19
Shifting between Categories B and C
20
Grace period for the application of the understanding on Rules and Procedures governing the settlement of disputes
21
Provision of assistance and support for capacity building
22
Information on Assistance and Support for capacity building to be submitted to the Committee

Section II contains special and differential treatment (SDT) provisions that allow developing and LDC Members to determine when they will implement individual provisions of the Agreement and to identify provisions that they will only be able to implement upon the receipt of technical assistance and support for capacity building.

To benefit from SDT, a Member must categorize each provision of the Agreement, as defined below, and notify other WTO Members of these categorizations in accordance with specific timelines outlined in the Agreement (see below).

For provisions designated as categories B and C, the Member must provide dates for implementation of the provisions.

View Section II

  • Category A

    Provisions that the Member will implement by the time the Agreement enters into force (or in the case of a least-developed country Member within one year after entry into force)

  • Category B

    Provisions that the Member will implement after a transitional period following the entry into force of the Agreement

  • Category C

    Provisions that the Member will implement on a date after a transitional period following the entry into force of the Agreement and requiring the acquisition of assistance and support for capacity building.

Section III

Section III
23
Institutional arrangements
24
Final provisions

Section III contains provisions that establish a permanent committee on trade facilitation at the WTO, require members to have a national committee to facilitate domestic coordination and implementation of the provisions of the Agreement. It also sets out a few final provisions.

View Section III