Workplan 2018

Target for 2018

This document sets out the work plan for the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF or the Facility) for 2018. Detailed information on the operation of the Facility can be found in the Operational Guidelines that were issued on 25 June 2015.

The activities in this work plan have the primary goal of assisting developing and least developed country Members to: (1) find assistance for implementation of the trade facilitation measures, (2) ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement, (3) submit TFA Section II notifications, and (4) enhance the operation of their national trade facilitation committees.

As of 28 November 2017, 123 countries had submitted their instrument of acceptance (ratification) of the Agreement, 100 Countries had submitted their category A notifications. Only 34 countries had notified category B and C commitments.


The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement entered into force on 22 February 2017, when more than two-thirds of the WTO Membership had domestically ratified a Protocol of Amendment and notified the WTO of their acceptance of this Protocol.  A total of 20 ratifications were received in 2017 and as of 28 November 2017, 123 out of 164 WTO Members had completed this process.

When the TFA entered into force, the category A, B and C notifications became due for developing countries that have ratified the Agreement. As of 28 November 2017, only 27 developing countries had notified their B and C categories. Although not due until February 2018, 7 LDCs have notified their B and C provisions. These notifications inform of the Member's implementation assistance needs.

In 2018 the Facility will prioritize requests for workshops to assist Members to complete their notifications or the ratification process. As Members provide their notifications their focus will turn to finding donors for their category C provisions. For this reason the TFAF work in 2018 will continue to assist with matchmaking.

For trade facilitation work to move forward at the national level it is imperative for the national committee to function well. In 2018 the work of the TFAF will build on the courses offered in 2017 to strengthen the capacity of the committee chairs, by providing workshops to enhance border agency cooperation.

The activities funded by this trust fund will fall within the scope of the TFA Facility Operational Guidelines that were issued on 25 June 2015.  The planned activities are based on the needs expressed by WTO developing and LDC Members. As these needs change the activities conducted by the Facility will change in order to meet the goal of supporting Members in their implementation of the Agreement. It is our intention that this work plan will allow for this flexibility.

The Facility is funded on a voluntary basis by donor Members through the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility Trust Fund. Implementation of the activities in this work plan will also require cooperation from development partners operating at international, regional and national levels.

To assist in the delivery of the work program the WTO Secretariat will hire two additional staff members. One person will be hired to oversee the TFAF website (funded by the WTO) and another person to oversee the new grant program (funded by the TFAF). In addition, the TFAF will offer two six-month internships for graduate students studying a related field to allow them to acquire experience in trade facilitation. The internship will be administered through the WTO internship program and funded through the Facility. The intern will support the work of the Facility.

A costing for 2018 activities is provided in Annex 1.


Activities to be conducted in 2018

A: Matchmaking and funding activities 

Task 1: Matchmaking

Once developing and LDC Members complete their category C notifications they will need to find donors in order to implement their category C provisions by their notified dates of implementation. The WTO Secretariat will assist Members to find assistance for the implementation of these category C provisions through the following methods:


  1. Making the notifications available on the website so they are easily accessible to donors. Notifications that have already been received are already available.
  2. Making statistics available on the provisions that are most notified under category C by region.
  3. Providing profiles for each developing and LDC Member with information on implementation assistance and development partners. (For example, information extracted from Article 22 notifications.)
  4. Conducting events featuring available assistance programs and opportunities to meet with the donor partners.
  5. Regular meetings with partner organizations and donors to enhance coordination and cooperation.


  6. Helping individual Members find assistance through direct matchmaking with partners. This will occur in response to a direct request from a Member and will also be the first step in the grant application process.
  7. Organizing meetings at the WTO between developing or LDC officials and donor partners – (with partners outside Geneva and capital based officials on conference call).
  8. Identification of support needs and donor matchmaking could also be conducted through national and regional workshops as described below in tasks 3 and 4.


Task 2: Operation of TFAF grant funding program

The TFAF will make available project preparation and project implementation grants for Members that are not able to find assistance from donor Members or international or regional organizations to implement provisions notified in category C of the TFA. The grant program is to provide a safety net for countries that cannot otherwise find the support they need. For this reason, matchmaking-related activities, including provision of information on the internet, will be necessary to support this program.

Project preparation grants will be available up to US$30,000. Project implementation grants will be available up to US$200,000. Requirements, terms and conditions for the grants will be set out in operational guidelines specific to this program. All information, including application forms, will be available on the TFAF website. At this point in time it is impossible to estimate how many grant applications will be received.

The TFAF will hire a staff member to oversee this program. The aim is to have the new staff person in place by the second quarter of 2018. In the meantime the current staff will continue to develop the grant program so that full information can be posted on the TFAF website and the program can be launched in the first half of the year. We had planned to launch the grant program in 2017, but it was delayed because so few category C notifications were submitted.


B: Activities related to ratification and special and differential treatment notifications and Identification of Implementation Support

Task 3: National Workshops

National workshops will be available, upon request, in the following areas:

  • activities with national authorities to support the notification of their category A, B and C notifications.;
  • support for the establishment and operation of national trade facilitation committees;
  • workshops for Parliamentarians and ratification bodies in countries that have not ratified the Agreement (all WTO Members must ratify).

National workshops will be conducted by WTO Staff or experts from international or regional organizations and/or national customs administrations that have facilitated WTO needs assessments.

To support matchmaking efforts, any national activity could include a segment dedicated to outreach with development partners present in-country.


Task 4: Regional and Sub-regional Workshops

One of the reasons often provided by Members on why they are late in providing their B/C notifications is because of issues in border agency cooperation. For this reason the TFAF, working in partnership with the STDF, World Bank Group, WCO, IPPC, OIE and others, will conduct a pilot workshop at a sub-regional level to provide joint training on customs and SPS border processes for relevant authorities in developing countries. The aim would be to enhance border agency cooperation by raising awareness on the TFA requirements and the benefits of a coordinated approach to border management and trade facilitation.

If this pilot workshop is successful we could repeat it in other sub-regions where countries are lagging behind in category B/C notifications, or regions that request this type of assistance.

Workshops conducted at the regional and/or sub-regional level will also include sessions on:

  • notification requirements;
  • how to find implementation assistance;
  • importance and role of national TF committees;
  • assist regional organizations to oversee effective implementation of certain measures that require regional cooperation (e.g. transit, border agency cooperation) or that may be more effective when applied on a regional basis (e.g. authorized operators in customs unions);
  • build capacity of regional TF committees (where these bodies operate) and/or to encourage a coordinated approach to implementation support requests and program implementation.

All regional events will also aim to include a segment dedicated to outreach with development partners. This will support the matchmaking activities foreseen under task 1 above.

Several WTO Members have mentioned the synergies between the implementation of the TFA and the Customs Valuation Agreement, and have introduced idea of a technical assistance program that would link the two. The TFAF could develop such a program if Members feel that it would be beneficial and would lead to better implementation of both agreements.

Task 5: National needs assessments

A total of 96 needs assessments have been conducted under the WTO needs assessment program.  Further needs assessments have been conducted separately by other partner organizations. Since most countries have already conducted a needs assessment we do not expect to receive any further requests; however, we received one request for a needs assessment update in 2017 so this program will remain available in case a Member needs this type of support to prepare their notifications.


C: Implementation support and capacity building

Task 6: Dedicated thematic workshops

The WTO Secretariat will organize one or more events to focus on experience sharing in the implementation of trade facilitation measures, donor and partner assistance programs, or any topic necessary to support implementation of the TFA. To ensure that the thematic workshops have maximum impact, the participation of capital-based officials directly responsible for TFA implementation could be funded, with particular attention paid to ensuring participation by government officials from LDCs. Where possible these events will be linked with Trade Facilitation Committee meetings.

Task 7: Training

The WTO Secretariat, with the permission of, and in cooperation with, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) will fund the translation and administration of an IADB course on border agency cooperation for non-IADB countries. The IADB has developed a series of trade facilitation–related courses that have been highly effective in the Latin America and Caribbean. They have generously offered the TFAF the possibility of making these courses available to non-IADB members.

In 2018 the TFAF will fund the translation from Spanish to English of a course on border agency cooperation and will use the same firm to conduct the training. This is a very comprehensive tutored 5 week course that can be offered to up to 45 people each time.

Task 8: TFAF website (

One of the main roles of the TFAF is to disseminate information on the TF Agreement. The TFAF website plays a key role in fulfilling this goal. Through it information is instantly available in the three official languages on the TFA, donor programs, tools and case studies on implementation, ratification and notifications, etc.

Because of the importance of the website the WTO will hire a new staff member that will have full-time responsibility to update and expand information already available as well as to add new programs. It is foreseen that this person will join the TFAF team in the first quarter of 2018.

Continuous website maintenance is essential to ensure that Members, and other users, have access to up-to-date information through a website that functions well, where information is easy to find and download in all three WTO languages. The Secretariat will extend a web maintenance contract in order to allow us to continue to enhance the functioning of the current tools, fix bugs and add additional functionalities that will streamline Members' information access and allow us to continue to make improvements suggested by the website's users.


D: Outreach and promotion activities

Task 9: TFAF promotion and coherence activities

The WTO Secretariat will continue to conduct global advocacy for the TFA and the TFAF by participating in events that are organized by other international or regional organizations, industry/business groups or national governments, aid organizations, private sector or academia. The aim of our participation will be to conduct outreach and training on the WTO Agreement and/or the Facility and support our partner organizations. These events include workshops, World Customs Organization TFA Working Group meetings, donor conferences, etc.

In addition, the WTO Secretariat is regularly involved in specific coherence dialogues with other organizations. Regular meetings take place with organizations engaged in TFA implementation activities. These activities are critical to supporting coherence in TFA implementation activities.

The Secretariat will also promote coherence through the collection and sharing of information on implementation support programs.


Annex 1

Budget Estimate for 2018






Task 1: Matchmaking activities



Task 2: Development of rules and procedures for the operation of TFAF grant funding operations

(No estimates can be made at this time as to the amount of funding that will be distributed under the grant program.)

Staff Member at grade 7 position

Monthly salary, insurance, and pension (per month)


This is a new program. It is not possible to estimate at this point in time.





Task 3: National workshops

Up to 15


Task 4: Regional (or sub-regional) Workshops

Up to 6


Task 5: National needs assessments



Task 6: Dedicated thematic workshops



Task 7: Translation and conducting IADB e-learning course (English and French)



Task 8: TFAF website

Website maintenance and further development


35 days at 860 per day



Task 9: TFAF promotion and coherence activities

Participation in events outside Geneva

Printing brochures and publicity materials

Create a promotional film for TFAF









Internship for Graduate Student



TOTAL (estimates for known costs. Not including grants)