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African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) Group Workshop on Implementation of WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

At the request of the ACP group, the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF)[1] conducted a half-day workshop on Trade Facilitation notifications on 22 July 2019 at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

The workshop focused on assisting non-LDC ACP WTO Members to complete outstanding notifications under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)[2] that are required in order to allow developing countries to take advantage of implementation flexibilities.  An August 22, 2019 deadline, which is the final deadline for developing countries, relates to the notification of definitive dates for the implementation of provisions of the Agreement which developing country WTO Members have self-designated as requiring technical assistance and capacity building before implementation ("Category C").[3] 

The workshop was graciously opened by Her Excellency, Cheryl Spencer, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva and Coordinator of the ACP Group in Geneva.

This workshop followed a similarly-focused retreat conducted for Least Developed Country (LDC) Members in June in Lausanne, Switzerland. And had an agenda which covered the review of Members' TFA implementation to date, notification requirements, deadlines, experience-sharing and was designed specifically to the current status of the Members in attendance.

Concluding with a working group session, participants of the non-LDC ACP workshop completed an action plan of how they would advise their national TF committee in the capital to meet the August 22 deadline. Presenters were from the WTO Secretariat, the Government of Guyana, Summit Alliances International and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  Presenters also facilitated the working groups and answered remaining questions on the notification process.

Seventeen delegates attended the workshop. In addition, the event was live-streamed and accessible to capital-based officials in the ACP countries.

This workshop was followed by several scheduled drop-in sessions during which Members received one-on-one advice on their notification situation.

In an evaluation of the event, all participants stated that they would recommend this workshop to other WTO Members. Comments on the workshop gathered from the feedback form included:

 

"Yes it [the workshop] will definitely help. As I have not been attending the TF Committee meeting the session provided me with very valuable information which will be useful for my country."

"It provided clarity and will assist me in explaining to Capital the urgent need to meet the deadline."

"It was very helpful to submit my country's notification."

"The work is underway and [notifications] will be sent in the coming days" (translated from the French).

 

[1] Information on the TFAF can be found here: https://www.tfafacility.org/

[2] More information on the TFA including the full legal text can be found here: https://www.tfafacility.org/trade-facilitation-agreement-facility

[3] More information on TFA notification deadlines can be found at the following link: https://www.tfadatabase.org/timelines-for-notifications