Annual Report 2015

Table of Contents



Executive Summary

  1. The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF or the Facility) was created at the request of developing and least-developed country (LDC) Members to help ensure that they receive the assistance they need to reap the full benefits of the new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and to support the ultimate goal of full implementation of this new Agreement by all Members.  
  2. The Facility became officially operational on 27 November 2014.  In order to get the Facility up and running, the most pressing objectives in 2015 were to raise funds, identify the types of programs that would meet Members' needs in implementing the new TFA, and to work with donors and other Members to develop the Facility's operational guidelines.  
  3. These Operational Guidelines include a logistical framework that identifies the Facility's responsibilities.  They instruct the Facility to assist developing and least-developed country Members in the following tasks that will lead to fulfilment of the ultimate goal of simplified border clearance through full implementation of the TFA:
    1. Have an overview of necessary changes to domestic rules and regulations for alignment with the WTO TFA;
    2. Prepare and submit TFA Section II category A, B and C commitment notifications;
    3. Complete domestic procedures to make the TFA legally binding;
    4. Secure implementation support.
  4. In order to advance work towards achieving these goals the Facility organized many events in 2015.  Initially the primary focus of these events was to support Members' efforts to ratify the TFA (by the end of 2015, sixty-four Members had notified the WTO of their ratification).  The preparation of notifications to take advantage of the implementation flexibilities and finding donor assistance were also an important focus.  
  5.  One of the first major achievements of the Facility was the completion and launch of the TFAF's new website in English, French and Spanish.  The website provides a structure for the Facility to fulfil one of its primary roles as a platform for information on the new Agreement.  The website contains information on the Facility's activities; on the Agreement; case studies and training materials on the implementation of the trade facilitation measures; information and contact points of donor support programs; contact points for developing and LDC Members; up-to-date information on ratifications of the Agreement; and special and differential treatment notifications received.                                                                                                          
  6. Another major accomplishment of the Facility was the creation of a trust fund to support its work.  Two existing trade facilitation technical assistance programs, and their trust funds, were incorporated into the Facility.  These were the needs assessment program and the program to bring capital-based officials to Trade Facilitation Negotiating Group meetings in Geneva.  The transfer of these funds into a new dedicated Facility trust fund allowed activities to begin immediately without the need to wait for the receipt of new funds.


  1. This document reports on activities conducted from 27 November 2014 to December 2015 to meet the objectives set out in the TFAF Operational Guidelines and the results framework contained therein.  Such reporting is provided for in paragraph 24 of the Operational Guidelines. The following results framework shows progress made in 2015 through the Facility's activities.
  2. Because the Facility was new at the beginning of 2015, and the Operational Guidelines had not yet been developed, no work plan was issued for this year.  For this reason this report follows the headings and format as set out in the Facility's work plan for the year 2016).  The following results framework shows progress made in 2015 through the Facility's activities.
  3. It should be noted that general workshops on the TFA are conducted through the WTO Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation (ITTC) and are not covered by this report.  The Facility staff coordinated closely with the ITTC on a number of such activities that were conducted in 2015.  These activities include national workshops as well as ITTC trade policy courses.  Information on these activities is available in the ITTC annual report.   


Task 1:  Matchmaking activities

  1. The Facility sent letters to Ambassadors of developing and LDC Members inviting them to meet with the Facility's staff.  The purpose of the meetings was to determine if the Member has received the necessary support to prepare the category ABC notifications; that it is having success in finding implementation support from donors, or knows how to access information on donor projects when ready; to discuss its short–term and long-term needs; and answer any questions, particularly on the notifications and instrument of acceptance.
  2. There were seventeen Members which responded and meetings were held with them.  Many Members only wanted general information, in particular on donor programs, however several Members had specific needs.  As a result of these meetings the following results were achieved:
    1. A national workshop was held in the Kyrgyz Republic for their newly-elected Members of Parliament.  A Russian-speaking WTO staff member not only conducted the workshop but he also met with ministries that needed to approve the resolution that would be sent to Parliament and he assisted in drafting an Instrument of Accession (in Russian and English) to be submitted to the WTO once the Protocol is ratified;
    2. The Facility is working with Sri Lanka to identify potential donors.  The World Bank Group will assist in identification of needs and priorities;
    3. Assistance from USAID in the development of new customs regulations for an African Member (due to the informal nature of these meetings, we will not publish Member names without express permission)
    4. A workshop in Montenegro conducted by WTO and World Bank Group which assisted the national TF committee in the development of terms of reference and an action plan.  Follow‑up work conducted by the World Bank Group to further support the work of the committee as well as assistance in the implementation of three specific TFA measures;
    5. World Bank Group to provide an African Member with support for their national committee
    6. World Bank Group to assist an Asian Member to determine their TA priorities;
    7. WTO conducted a meeting for senior decision makers in an African Member as a follow-on to a previously planned national workshop on another WTO topic
    8. The TFAF conducted a donor conference for an Asian Member that was held in Nairobi during the Ministerial Conference. Eight donors participated in this event;
    9. The TFAF assisted a delegate from an African Member to prepare a briefing on the TFA for his incoming government;
    10. The TFAF helped a new delegate from an African Member to have a better understanding of the TFA and, in particular, the special and differential treatment provisions and notification requirements, and how to find assistance for their national TF committee.  He was also put into contact with the chair of his country's national committee.
  3. In addition to these meetings, the WTO has an open door policy so Members frequently drop by unannounced, or send an email, to request assistance on various issues.  Last year we were able to respond to several of such requests for donor assistance from Members, either by contacting a donor/organization on their behalf, or putting them immediately in contact with a donor or partner organization. The Annex D+ partners and USAID respond promptly to such requests.
  4. In the future the Facility will provide back-up for Members that are not able to obtain assistance through existing donor programs.  The development of a program to offer project proposal and project implement grants will begin in 2016.


Task 2:  Provision of general information

  1. One of the day-to-day functions of the Facility is to provide information to Members on any question related to the TFA and its implementation.  This information sharing is conducted in a very informal manner under the open door policy mentioned above.  
  2. In addition to the donor-related issues already mentioned, the Facility frequently[1] provided information to Members on how to complete and submit the category A,B,C notifications; how to prepare and submit the instrument of acceptance; and answered general questions on the TFA and its requirements.  The Facility also responded to numerous requests for information about the TFA from different sources such as organizations, academia and press.

Task 3:  National Workshops

  1. General workshops on the TFA are conducted by the WTO Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation (ITTC) and are not covered by this report.  The Facility conducts national activities more closely linked to implementation of the TFA that are designed to meet the specific needs of the Member.  Both of the events conducted this year were initiated through the meetings as described above.  




Partners conducting the workshop



22-23 July

Support for National TF Committee

WTO/World Bank Group

World Bank continues support to committee.

Montenegro has since ratified the TFA

Kyrgyz Republic

21-23 December

WTO TFA for Parliamentarians


Ratification process was begun

Task 4:  Regional Workshops

  1. In 2015 one of the top priorities for the Facility was to support Members in their efforts to ratify the TFA.  To achieve this goal the Facility conducted several regional workshops for Parliamentarians.
  2. This program was initiated through a presentation made by TFAF staff at a Parliamentary Conference on the WTO that was organized jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the European Parliament and conducted at the WTO at the beginning of 2015.  This was attended by approximately 350 Parliamentarians from around the world.
  3. The main concern of Parliamentarians is the impact the TFA will have on their country.   Presentations at the WTO regional conferences focused on the benefits of the implementation of the TFA, examples of the benefits of individual TF measures, and presentations from partner organizations and donors to inform of the technical assistance that is available.  In addition to the need to ratify, we also informed the Parliamentarians that their role could involve approving a budget for national committees and possible amendments to national legislation.
  4. The first workshop for Parliamentarians was held in Morocco for all African Members.  It was held in conjunction with a Ministerial Conference hosted by the Government of Morocco in which the WTO Director-General (DG) took part.  The dates of both conferences were moved forward to accommodate the availability of our DG so our invitation period was very short.   However, despite the disappointing turn-out we did see some results.  At the time of this conference none of the parliaments in attendance had received the TFA for ratification from their government.  Nevertheless 3 of the 10 countries in attendance have since ratified it.   
  5. The second workshop was held for Parliamentarians of Latin American Members.  Since this conference three of the participating countries have ratified the TFA.  It is our understanding that the TFA has been ratified by the Parliament of other participating Members; however, the national ratification process includes additional procedures which can be prolonged.
  6. The third conference was for Pacific Island Members.  It was attended by Parliamentarians, government officials and private sector (the WTO funded the parliamentarians).  Since it was held, one of the four participating WTO Members has ratified, two have provided notifications of category A, and one Member notified categories A,B, and C.
  7. Parliamentarian conferences funded by the Facility are as follows:

Invitees and venue



Number of participants

Partners presenting at the conference

Partners conducting the conference

Ratifications and notifications received since

All African Members

Venue: Morocco


All African Members

8-10 April


23 from 10 countries

(2 per country plus the host country)

Annex D+ organizations, private sector, TMEA

It was held in conjunction with Government of Morocco Ministerial Meeting for African countries.  Partially funded by the Government of Morocco.

3 participating countries have ratified

2 have since notified their cat A

1 notified Cat ABC

All Pacific Island WTO Members

Venue: Fiji

(non-members were funded by PIFS)

All Pacific Island WTO Members

(non-Members were funded by PIFS)


20 August

7 participants funded by the TFAF from the 4 WTO Members

(Vanuatu flights were cancelled due to weather.  Fiji Parliament was in session)

World Bank Group, PIFS


This was part of a larger event for Parliamentarians and other government officials and private sector. 

It was held back to back with a World Bank seminar on TFA for customs officials.

1 has ratified

2 have notified Cat. A

1 has notified Cat. ABC

All Latin American Members

Venue: Panama City, Panama

All Latin American Members

10-12 June


World Bank Group, Global Express, BID, IRU, IATA, EU

Parlamento Latinoamericano

3 have ratified

14 Members had previously notified Cat. A

24.  In addition, the WTO Secretariat participated in the following regional events:

Venue Date Event
Africa: Mauritius 4-6 May

A regional workshop for Parliamentarians from the East African Community (EAC) and Indian Ocean Commission.  This event was funded by the WTO ITTC since TFAF was still in the process of securing funding.  However, the TFAF cooperated closely.   Three of the eight EAC countries have ratified (one before the event).  Five have provided their category A and one Member has provided categories B and C.

ASEAN: Singapore 25-27 May

A regional workshop for Parliamentarians. Organized by ASEAN for ASEAN Members. 

Middle  East: Kuwait 24-26 March

A regional workshop for GCC countries organized by IMF.

Task 5:  National needs assessments

25.  The national needs assessment program was originally created to assist WTO developing and LDC Members to participate more effectively in the trade facilitation negotiations by helping them to conduct a gap and situational analysis.  The program was offered again, beginning in 2013 to assist Members to identify the time needed to implement each measure in the TFA, and their technical assistance needs so that they could take advantage of the implementation flexibilities provided for in the TFA.  A total of 96 WTO needs assessments have been conducted since the beginning of 2013.

26.  This program and its trust fund were transferred to the Facility.  Most Members completed a self‑assessment before 2015 so the Facility conducted needs assessments only in three countries this year, as reflected in the chart below.  These needs assessments were necessary for Guinea and Zimbabwe to be in a position to prepare their category A, B, C notifications.



Conducted by:


24-28  August



5-6 August


Bosnia and Herzegovina (in accession)

27-29 October

USAID (bulk of funding was also provided by USAID)


Task 6:  Dedicated thematic workshops

  1. Several thematic workshops were held this year.  All had at least partial focus on the support that is available to assist developing and least-developed country Members to implement the TFA.   
  2. The TFAF co-hosted two events with the World Bank Group (WBG) during the Aid-for-Trade Global Review that was held at the WTO in July.  The first event was an official side event titled: WTO TFA – Sequencing Reforms and Preparing for Ratification.  It included presentations on the WTO Facility and the World Bank TF Support Program as well as presentations by WTO Members on the findings of their self-assessments.
  3. The second event was a one-day workshop for the capital-based officials who had received funding from the WBG to participate in the Global Review.  This workshop featured panel discussions on "Ratification and entry into force and Challenges in Reform Implementation" and "Building Political Leadership for TFA Reforms – National Trade Facilitation Committees".  A working group exercise brought out reasons why ratification of the TFA could be delayed in many Members.  As a result of this exercise the World Bank agreed to offer funding to assist some Members to expedite the translation of the TFA into the local language.
  4. In addition, Facility staff wrote a chapter in the "Aid-for-Trade at a Glance" publication on Implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.  The Facility had a booth in the WTO central atrium to distribute brochures on the TFA and on the Facility; and to demonstrate the new website and notifications database.    
  5. In November a half-day event was organized for all WTO Members that consisted of updates by Annex D+ organizations on their TF implementation support programs.  Presentations were made by the WBG, ITC, UNCTAD, UNECE, the IRU, the WCO, and the STDF.
  6. The Facility hosted an official side event during the 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya in December.  This event consisted of two sessions.  The first was called "Achieving Results through Implementation of the Agreement" and featured presentations from the Vice Minister of Commerce of Cambodia; the Director-General of Swaziland Customs, and a flower exporter from Kenya.  It also included presentations on the TFAF and World Bank Group TF Support Program.  
  7. The second session launched the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation; a new initiative to provide assistance to the private sector in developing and LDC Members.  The high-level speakers included the WTO Director-General, Ambassador Froman, United States Trade Representative; Lord  Francis Maude, Minister of State for Trade and Investment of the United Kingdom; and Mr. Steven Pope, Head of Customs and Regulatory Affairs, DHL Express.  The 200 seat room was filled to capacity for this event.
  8. Facility staff also manned tables in the lobby of the conference center throughout the Ministerial conference where they answered questions about the TFA and distributed TFAF materials, as well as materials from partner organizations and donors.  They also participated in side events organized by partner organizations including a WCO event for customs officials and a UNECE event for officials from standards agencies.  Upon request, they held one-on-one meetings with Members (as described above).

Task 7:  Development of Advanced Trade Facilitation Course

  1. Work began on the development of an advanced training course on trade facilitation to be conducted in 2016.  The course is based on the model used for the advanced SPS course and will focus on capacity building of officials.  The target participants for the initial course are Chairs of the national committees in order to help them develop or improve skills in the operation of a committee, including ensuring effective cooperation of committee members.  Cooperation amongst government agencies, and with the private sector, is important both for the functioning of the committee and for effective implementation of the Agreement.  The first course was developed to be delivered in June 2016 for approximately 25 English-speaking officials.  

Task 8:  TFAF website (

  1. Because one of the main objectives of the Facility is to provide a platform for information on implementation of the TFA the creation of a dedicated website was a top priority.
  2. The website contains information on the TFA, case studies and training materials on the implementation of the trade facilitation measures, information and contact points of donor support programs, contact points for developing and LDC Members, up-to-date information on ratifications of the Agreement and special and differential treatment notifications received.  It will provide information on the grant program once it is fully developed.  In addition it advertises trade facilitation–related news items and events conducted by the WTO and partner organizations.  It will also, at a later stage, be the portal through which Members will apply for WTO TFA grants.  The website is constantly updated and will evolve as more information and features are added. 
  3. The new Facility website was first demonstrated at a meeting of the TF Preparatory Committee on 24 March 2015. The English version was launched through an email announcement to the TFA email list on 2 April 2015.  The French and Spanish versions were made available as of 27 May 2015.
  4. The new website was demonstrated at all 2015 meetings of the WTO Trade Facilitation Preparatory Committee as well as at all national and regional events.  A brochure was created and distributed at events to create awareness of the site and the type of information it provides.  By the end of 2015 the website was receiving an average of 1800 unique visitors per month.  
  5. The website was created by a software development firm working closely with WTO Secretariat Facility staff.  It is based on Drupal (i.e. a content management system), which allows the Secretariat to publish, edit and modify content immediately when needed.  

Task 9:  Training materials

  1. The TFAF created several new brochures to promote the TFA, explain the role of the Facility, the SDT provisions, the instrument of acceptance and the notification timelines. 
  2. The Facility has created slide presentations that it shares, upon request, with WTO Members, partner organizations, and WTO Secretariat staff.  These presentations are updated to reflect the current state of play each time a request is received.  Slides, with talking points, were provided to several trade ministers to present to their Members of Parliament. 
  3. Some general slide presentations are available on the website as are links to training materials developed by other organizations.  Of course, materials are prepared to meet the specific needs for Facility training events.


Task 10:  TFA and TFAF promotion

  1. The Facility organized the distribution of TFAF brochures, as well as materials and brochures from partner organizations, and demonstrated the WTO website at several highly-attended events.   These included the WTO Public Forum as well as the Aid for Trade Global Review, the Annex D+ event, and the Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, as mentioned above.
  2. In order to help ensure more widespread knowledge about the Trade Facilitation Agreement, the SDT notification requirements, and the role of the Facility, WTO officials participated in a variety of events, some at the WTO and others organized by different organizations; as listed below.  (Please note that this list does not include events funded by the WTO Global Trust Fund.)




WCO TFA Working Group Meeting

12‑13 February


Brussels, Belgium

Approximately 200 participants from customs administrations, other border agencies,  international associations and organizations and private sector

EIF Global Platform

18 March


Approximately 240 participants from WTO Members, donors and organizations

Global Facilitation Partnership for Transportation and Trade

22 April

UN Geneva

Presentation on "the Role of Private Sector in Supporting Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement"


WCO Europe Regional Workshop on Strategic Initiative for TF and the Implementation of the WTO TFA

27-30 May

Budapest, Hungry

Customs officials from European countries

(including Eastern Europe, Turkey and Russia)

Regional Workshop Implementation of the WTO TFA in COMESA Countries

15 June

Nairobi, Kenya

WTO provided an overview of the TFA and the SDT provisions of the TFA. ITC spoke on the role of the National Trade Facilitation Committee and their methodology to assist countries in categorizing the TFA provisions

WCO Knowledge Academy

18-19 June

Brussels, Belgium

Approximately 75 participants from customs administrations

Meeting for the Trade Policy Training Centre in Africa (TRAPCA)


29 June

UNCTAD - Geneva

Annex D+ organizations met with TRAPCA and Swedish National Trade Board to advise TRAPCA on development of its trade facilitation program.

CODEX Alimentarius Commission Meeting

-WTO Side Event on the TFA

 8 July

CICG - Geneva

Approximately 100 SPS officials attended a lunch-time side event offered by the TFAF at this annual meeting.

1st African Union Customs Expert TF Forum

18-21 August

Brazzaville, Congo

The Forum brought together customs officials from 19 AU Member States; RECs; international organizations; private sector representatives; and, the AfDB to provide updates on the current situation regarding trade facilitation implementation in Africa, in order to share information on best practices in the scheduling and implementation of the TFA.

AAEC International Single Window Conference

5-7 October

Brazzaville, Congo

 Organised by the African Alliance for Electronic Commerce (AAEC) which groups Single Window operators from 18 African countries.  The objective was to discuss how Single Window can assist in the implementation of the TFA

7th Asia-Pacific TF Forum- Deepening Regional Integration through TF

20-21 October

Wu Han, China

WTO officials attended as speakers to explain the TFA and it's implications for LLDCs and the crucial role of the SPS Agreement to facilitate trade.

WCO TFA Working Group Meeting



12-13 October

Brussels, Belgium

TFAF presentation on the role of the Facility and update on WTO TF notifications and ratifications.


Approximately 200 participants from customs administrations, other border agencies, international associations and organizations and private sector.

World Bank Group- Consultative Committee Meeting for Trade Facilitation Support Program – TFSP

11 November

Vienna, Austria

Approximately 10 participants from TF donors

CEFTA Week (organized by CEFTA Secretariat)


Meeting of chairs of national committees with WTO and other international organizations.

24-26 November

Chisinau, Moldova

Approximately 160 participants from government agencies and private sector from the CEFTA countries. 

1st African Union Customs Experts Meeting on the Development of a Trade Facilitation Strategy for Africa

8-12 December

Libreville, Gabon

This meeting was held to review the current situation in Trade Facilitation in Africa through appraising participants on new initiatives in TF and to propose a draft framework for the AU strategy to implement the TFA

Task 11:  Activities to enhance coherence and coordination

  1. The Annex D+ group expanded this year to include 11 organizations and associations[2].  During 2015 the TFAF organized 5 meetings with all Annex D+ partners.  One of the goals of the meetings was to provide a forum for sharing of information on assistance activities in order to enhance coherence and avoid duplication.  As a result, many events were conducted jointly by organizations, and where separate events were held, information was shared to build on the work rather than to just duplicate.  Another goal was to plan WTO-led events, such as the Advanced Course and Nairobi event.  
  2. Regular communication also took place by email throughout the year.  In addition, the TFAF officials met with many of the Annex D+ partners during travel and events and in bilateral planning meetings.
  3. The TFAF staff also frequently put donors working in the same countries in touch with each other and urged cooperation.  These efforts led to coordination meetings in-country in some cases, and in others it led to joint events.
  4. Several information-sharing meetings were held for all WTO donors.  However, in order to get the TFAF up and running many meetings were held one-on-one and with small groups of donors in order to develop the operational guidelines and results framework and discuss funding needs.
  5. The donor conferences and trade fairs mentioned above also had the aim of encouraging donor coordination and coherence. 


  1. Two trust funds existed at the WTO for programs that were created to support the TFA negotiations.  The funds remaining in these two trust funds were transferred to the Trade Facilitation Agreement Trust Fund, upon permission of the donors.  These funds, as well as additional funds received, are set out in the following chart. 
Opening Balance as at 01 January 2015   0.00
Contributions Current Year   3,098,213.02
Australia 707,850.22  
Austria 104,900.00  
European Commission 174,400.00  
Norway 1,742,059.11  
United Kingdom 369,003.69  
Contributions: Transfer from TTFNA and TTFNG Funds   1,304,141.53
TOTAL FUNDS   4,402,354.55



Austria 102,249.86
Australia 810,394.33
Switzerland 12,767.01
Ireland 34,699.59
Norway 2,710,413.74
New Zealand 47,530.72
United Kingdom 359,681.38
United States 44,530.13

[1] Specific counts of meetings are set out in the Results Framework on this page.

[2] The original group includes: IMF, OECD, UNCTAD, World Bank Group, WCO.  The new members include: ICC, ITC, IRU, UNECE, UNIDO, WEF (ICC and WEF also on behalf of the Global Alliance for TF)