ICC calls TFA setback disappointing but says backtracking is not an option
The International Chamber of Commerce has expressed deep concern that the deadline to implement the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has been missed.
Under the terms of the WTO’s Bali deal—agreed to by all WTO members last December— a “legal protocol” to operationalize the TFA was due to be agreed today by the WTO membership. This deadline has now been missed due to a standoff over the negotiation of a separate agreement on national food security programmes.
Commenting on the news, ICC Secretary General John Danilovich said: “There’s huge frustration that a deal with the potential to inject a US$1 trillion stimulus into the global economy has been blocked by a diplomatic standoff in Geneva.
“The deal agreed in Bali last December matters to us all. We’re talking about a common-sense package of reforms that will make it easier for small businesses to export, reduce prices for consumers and help tackle corruption.
“What we can’t afford now is inaction: Action is needed to save a deal that would bring real-world benefits for us all—and particularly the world’s poorest. The priority now must be on taking swift action to ensure the potential benefits of the agreement are realized.
“Business supports the WTO delivering more rapidly on the development aspects of the Doha Round. We need to find a way to make this happen in the coming months. But clearly the first step has to be implementation of trade facilitation reforms—in line with the agreement forged just seven months ago.
“Our message is clear. Get back to the table, save this deal and get the multilateral trade agenda back on the road to completion sooner rather than later, to grow the economy and create jobs without further delay.”
If fully implemented by all WTO members, the trade facilitation agreement and associated reforms could, over time deliver an additional one trillion dollars to the world economy and lead to the creation of as many as 21 million jobs, of which 18 million are in developing countries.
Research has also suggested that implementation of the TFA could add around US$21 billion to India’s domestic economy by 2020—with an associated boost to exports of around 10%.
On behalf of its global network reaching 6 million enterprises in 130 countries, ICC reaffirms its commitments to working with business and governments to ensure business expertise and opinion make a valued contribution to the global trade agenda.