You are here

WTO Trade Facilitation in Action

DG Azevêdo spoke at the WTO Trade Facilitation in Action event organised by the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) on 17 December which included the launch of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, a new public-private platform that seeks to use private sector expertise and resources to support trade facilitation reforms.  The event took place on the sidelines of the WTO's 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi. He welcomed the pledges made by governments and private sector entities to help developing and least-developed countries implement the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), declaring efforts to provide support have “got off to a good start”.

The benefits of the TFA were highlighted at the event, with several speakers offering concrete examples of how trade facilitation is being implemented and how it has helped companies and national economies.

I.V. Mazorodze, Commissioner of Customs and Excise with the Swaziland Revenue Authority, said efforts undertaken by his government so far on implementation have included the creation of a National Trade Facilitation Committee, the development of a National Trade Portal, training of customs clearing agents, upgrading border infrastructure and the drafting of a new Customs Act.

He noted that Swaziland's ranking in the World Bank's “Doing Business” survey has improved significantly in recent years. The country currently ranks 30th worldwide for the survey's “trading across borders” indicator.

Elizabeth Kimani, General Manager of Nairobi-based Masai Flowers, cited the importance of quick customs clearance for her business. For the busy St. Valentine's Day holiday, hiccups in flower deliveries not only have important economic impacts but, she noted with humour, can also sour relationships.

DG Azevêdo noted the unique architecture of the TFA, which provides developing and least-developed countries with the flexibility to tailor their commitments and implementation schedules according to their specific needs and commensurate with their level of development.

The Gl Alliance is supported by contributions of Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Furthermore, Australia is expected to join soon. A number of multinational companies have also pledged support, including A.P. Møller-Mærsk, DHL and Wal-Mart,

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman said implementation of the TFA can help promote export diversification, attract investment, improve revenue collection and support the engagement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the global economy.

“From our own perspective, we know that SMEs are really the driving force of the economy, they're the job creators,” Mr Froman said.  “When we ask our SMEs what are the biggest challenges facing them when they engage in international trade, the number one issue they point to are the complexities at the border, the various customs procedures and border measures. The TFA is very much an effort to address that.”

Lord Francis Maude, the United Kingdom's Minister of State for Trade and Investment, noted that the TFA would produce “real benefits” for all WTO members, but for developing countries in particular. 

“At present, one standard container from Sub-Saharan Africa will take 31 days on average and cost nearly $2000 to ship,” he said.  “To do the same from East Asia is ten days less and half the cost.”

The reforms required by the TFA are “hard,” Lord Maude admitted.  “It's tackling inertia, it's tackling vested interests who are used to things being done in a particular way.”


December 17, 2015 - 9.45-11.45 - Lenana Meeting room - Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC)


Session 1 Achieving Results through Implementation of the Agreement 

9.45-10.45 (Part 1) 


Moderator: Ambassador Esteban Conejos; Chair of the WTO Trade Facilitation Preparatory Committee


HE Pan Sorasak, Vice Minister of Commerce, Cambodia 

Mr I.V Mazorodze, Commissioner of Customs and Excise Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) 

Ms Elizabeth Kimani, General Manager Maasai Flowers, Nairobi, Kenya 

10.45-11.00 (Part 2) 

Supporting Implementation

Ms Selina Jackson, World Bank Group Special Representative to the UN and WTO, World Bank Group

Ms Sheri Rosenow, Counsellor, WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility, World Trade Organization

Session 2 Launch of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation



Comments from WTO Director General Azevêdo 

Ambassador Froman, US Trade Representative, United States

Lord Francis Maude, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, United Kingdom

Mr Steven Pope, Head of Customs and Regulatory Affairs, DHL Express

  • WTO Trade Facilitation in Action
  • WTO Trade Facilitation in Action
  • WTO Trade Facilitation in Action
  • WTO Trade Facilitation in Action
  • WTO Trade Facilitation in Action
  • WTO Trade Facilitation in Action
  • WTO Trade Facilitation in Action
  • WTO Trade Facilitation in Action
  • Launch of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation
  • Launch of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation
  • Launch of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation
  • Launch of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation