The paper, prepared by the ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Regulation, comes amid the issuance of compromise texts by the heads of the WTO negotiating groups on agriculture and industrial tariffs. These texts are designed to broker consensus on the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda (DDA).
In its paper, ICC advised that steps can be taken now to implement elements of the trade facilitation agreement and that there is no need to wait for a formal conclusion of the DDA.
ICC has long advocated a trade facilitation agreement with mutually-agreed rules for trade procedures that will improve the efficiency of managing the movement of goods across national borders.
An International Trade Facilitation Agreement (ITFA) will deliver significant benefits to all members, including: increased trade and foreign investment, a boost to competitiveness, reduced overall costs and additional government revenue, the paper asserted.
While the latest draft of the trade facilitation agreement includes many recommendations by WTO members, there is scope for improvement. The ICC paper called for deepening commitments to electronic automation, reducing requirements for data and documents, and adopting the most up-to-date procedures for smoothing express delivery shipments.
WTO members should also commit to analyze the progress made on trade facilitation by measuring the release times for goods at the border and to reduce them over time, ICC said.
ICC also stressed the need for a capacity-building initiative to support the transition to improved border management in some developing countries. Such an agreement should include pledges based on members in need, with donor efforts coordinated by the WTO for greater efficiency and to ensure common standards. A system to measure the benefits should also be put in place to monitor the effectiveness of these programmes.
In addition, the WTO should integrate the views of the private sector into its efforts to improve trade facilitation, ICC said.