In February 2022, the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) celebrated its fifth anniversary of entry into force.
Throughout the pandemic, trade facilitation has been critical in keeping food and other essential supplies flowing. In the post-pandemic world, import and export processes must be simplified in order to aid in rapid recovery.
The WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement
The TFA, the WTO's first multilateral trade agreement, includes provisions for expediting the movement, release, and clearance of goods, as well as cooperation between customs and relevant authorities. In particular, it seeks to make cross border trade in goods easier, reduce costs, and improve efficiency in doing business under a more transparent and predictable trading environment.
The full text of the agreement can be found on the WTO website.
WTO members' efforts to implement the TFA over the past five years have been vital for global supply chain resilience, which is more than ever important amid the demands for a sustainable recovery from the pandemic. Border reforms to fulfil TFA commitments, such as the streamlining of trade procedures, expedited approvals for perishable goods, and establishment of information portals, have all helped to make sure that food, vaccines, medical products, and other essential supplies continued to reach people despite difficult conditions.
However, there is more work to be done. Workers, small businesses, and many developing economies are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. The full implementation of the TFA, supported by aid for capacity building from partners, will be required to help economies recover and better withstand future shocks.
According to Philippe Isler, the Director for the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation,“we can counter this disruption by increasing our efforts to cut the unnecessary delays and red tape at borders that continues to cause frustration, generate unnecessary costs and affect livelihoods…Now is the time to act – by doing. There has never been a better time to seize the opportunity to facilitate trade.”
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