The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has welcomed the entry into force of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)-a landmark global trade agreement which could provide a boost to global trade flows of over US$1trillion.
More than two-thirds of WTO member states have now ratified the agreement, with Chad, Jordan, Oman and Rwanda the latest countries to do so as part of an almost two-year process. Reaching this threshold means the TFA now becomes an official part of the multilateral trading system which covers more than 96% of global GDP.
The TFA-the first multilateral trade agreement to enter into force in over two decades-aims to make trade easier and simpler by cutting red-tape at borders. ICC has estimated that the deal could support the creation of some 20 million jobs worldwide- the vast majority in developing countries.
ICC Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said: “The entry into force of the TFA is a watershed moment for global trade. The reality today is that many small businesses find themselves unable to trade internationally due to complex customs requirements. By cutting unnecessary red-tape at borders, the TFA will have a transformational effect on the ability of entrepreneurs in developing countries to access global markets.”
Mr Mittal added: “The TFA can help ensure that, for the first time, all companies-regardless of size or location-can benefit from global trade. The entry into force of the agreement could not come at a more important moment given the imperative to make global growth more inclusive.”
ICC has been a leading proponent of the TFA, playing a key role in the 2013 negotiations that led to the agreement and working closely with the WTO and other international organizations to coordinate and support the deal’s implementation.
John Danilovich, ICC Secretary General, said: “ICC has tirelessly championed the TFA because we know that making trade easier through simple customs reforms can provide a major boost to small business growth.It’s estimated that the TFA could increase SME exports by 80% in some economies. This means more jobs, more consumer choice and-ultimately-more inclusive development.”
Mr Danilovich also called on governments to take action to implement the TFA:“The entry into force of the TFA is just one step to making the potential benefits of this landmark agreement a reality. Governments must work without delay to implement the provisions of the TFA working hand-in-hand with local businesses to identify key bottlenecks to trade across national borders.”
ICC is actively supporting the implementation of the TFA through the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation-a major public-private partnership supported by a number of donor governments and international businesses. The Alliance is currently rolling out trade facilitation projects in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Viet Nam based on TFA standards.