Landmark trade agreement enters into force: WTO chief

Zhengzhou Bogen Machinery Equipment Co.,Ltd.

Landmark trade agreement enters into force: WTO chief

GENEVA, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Director-General announced Wednesday that the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has entered into force after two thirds of members completed their domestic ratification process.

"This morning, I received ratification from Rwanda, Oman, Chad and Jordan, bringing the total number of ratifications to 112," Roberto Azevedo told a press conference at WTO headquarters in Geneva.

"This means we have crossed the required legal threshold of two-thirds of the WTO membership. Therefore I am very happy to announce that the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement has now entered into force," he added.

The landmark covenant, which opened for ratification in 2014, seeks to facilitate the movement, release and clearance of goods across international customs.

According to estimates, the full implementation of the treaty could decrease global trade costs by as much as 14.3 percent.

This is of particular significance for developing and least developed countries which typically have to contend with higher levels of trade costs.

"It will help these countries to diversify their trade. Developing countries could increase the number of products they export by 20 percent, while LDCs (Least Developed Countries) could see an increase of up to 35 percent," Azevedo explained.

"In addition, developing countries could enter a third more foreign markets on average, while LDCs could access 60 percent more, making these countries less vulnerable to external economic shocks," he added.

The cumulative ramifications of the TFA are also very promising, with experts estimating that the full implementation of the agreement could boost global trade by as much as 1 trillion U.S. dollars per year.

According to estimates, the TFA is expected to add 2.7 percentage points per year to world trade growth, and over half a percentage point per year to world GDP growth by 2030.

"This impact would be greater than the elimination of all existing tariffs around the world," Azevedo highlighted.

"The Trade Facilitation Agreement is the biggest reform of global trade this century," he added.

In December 2013, WTO members concluded negotiations on a Trade Facilitation Agreement at the Bali Ministerial Conference, as part of a wider "Bali Package".

It is the first multilateral agreement to be reached since the organization came into being over 20 years ago.

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