Workplan 2019

Target for 2019

This document sets out the work plan for the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF or the Facility) for 2019.

Detailed information on the operation of the Facility can be found in the Operational Guidelines that were issued on 25 June 2015.

In line with the agreed Operational Guidelines, that were issued on 25 June 2015[1], 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 provisions of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), (2) ratify the TFA, (3) submit TFA Section II notifications within agreed deadlines, and (4) enhance the operation of their national trade facilitation committees.

In order to meet these goals, in 2019, the Facility will carry out tasks organized under four linked headings: A. Matchmaking and Funding, B. Ratification, notifications and implementation, C. Implementation Support and capacity building, and D. Advocacy.

In order to ensure that it responds to genuine needs, TFAF's activites are driven by requests from Members. As such this work plan outlines the number, scale and broad focus of the proposed activities for 2019, without detailing the locations and specific topics covered, which are fixed and communicated to stakeholders at regular updates throughout the year. TFAF will pay special attention to the participation of women in all trainings and workshops.

As of 9 November 2018, 139 countries had submitted their instrument of acceptance (ratification) of the Agreement, 114 Countries had submitted their category A notifications. Seventy-five countries had notified category B and C commitments.

In order to reflect progress made since the launch of the Facility, at the request of donors and to further clarify its approach, simplify reporting and underline the contribution of its activities to overall results, the Facility will propose an updated log frame to stakeholders. The update includes the above goals as the Facility's outcomes and the activity headings of this plan as its outputs. As such there will be a clearer link between the activities described in this work plan, monitored throughout the year and evaluated in the annual report, and the overall aims of the Facility as expressed in the log frame.

To reflect progress made in ratifying and implementing the Agreement, TFAF will further develop its project management and monitoring tools, based on the updated log frame, to  increase its results-based management and results reporting. Over the course of 2019, TFAF will develop a theory of change on its impact on developing countries, including data on activities and delivered outputs, with gender-disaggregated data, where possible, on the relevant activities.


[1] The Operational Guidelines are available on the Facility website at: .



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.[1] A total of 13 ratifications were received in 2018 and as of 9 November 2018, 139 out of 164 WTO Members had completed this process.

When the TFA entered into force, the category A, B and C notifications became due. As of 9 November 2018, 54 developing countries had notified their B and C categories. Meeting the deadline of February 2018, 21 LDCs have notified their B and C provisions. These notifications inform of the Member's implementation assistance needs.

The activities funded by this trust fund are based on the needs expressed by WTO developing and LDC Members. As the TFA entered into force in 2017,  ratifications of the Agreement and notifications of the relevant provisions began to accelerate in 2018. In order to provide relevant and timely support to Members, the activities of the Facility have followed a similar development timeline. This work plan is therefore drafted in order to allow for this beneficiary-driven identification of needs.

The provision of more intensive, resource-demanding activities  such as those funded by the Grants Program, can only move forward at a time when Members have a clear understanding of their implementation needs. Activities organised under heading D on advocacy of the Agreement for example, have therefore been a necessary focus of the intial years of the Facility's existence in order to quickly disseminate a coherent and aligned message relating to the TFA and the Facility, as well as to respond to the many speaking requests that are inevitably generated by a new WTO Agreement. Advocacy activities will continue to be a cost-effective method to ensure an up-to-date, accurate message. This includes partners based outside of Geneva, that do not necessarily have access to the latest information, as well as to disseminate and promote the use of tools, including the TFAF website and TFAF database, without the need to dedicate greater resources to organize and host national and regional events in Geneva and internationally.

In 2019 the Facility will prioritize requests for workshops to assist Members that have not been able to meet the notification deadlines (11 Members) or complete the ratification (24 Members) 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 2019 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 2019 the work of the TFAF will build on the courses offered in 2017 and 2018 to strengthen the capacity of the committee chairs, by providing workshops to enhance border agency cooperation.

These priorities have been identified primarily by Members themselves in the course of outreach and advocacy activities in 2018 and 2017. The Facility takes note of discussions on technical assistance needs in the dedicated session of the Trade Facilitation Committee.

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 has hired two additional staff members. Aisha Sarr took up her role in February 2018 to oversee the TFAF website (funded by the WTO) and Mark Henderson in August 2018 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. Interns will support the work of the Facility.

A costing for 2019 activities is provided in Annex 1.


[1] The Protocol Amending the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization done at Geneva on 27 November 2014 (WT/L/940).


Activities to be conducted in 2019


Task 1: Matchmaking

As many developing and LDC Members have completed their category C notifications the need to find donors in order to implement their category C provisions by their notified dates of implementation becomes an increasing priority. The WTO Secretariat assists 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 and implementation partners. All notifications received are made available within days.
  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 partners to enhance coordination and cooperation.


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


Task 2: Operation of TFAF grant funding program

As 2018 saw a greater increase in the number of Members submitting notifications of the agreement, the Facilities' focus in 2019 includes a growing emphasis on providing support for implementation. On October 9 2018, TFAF launched its Grant Program. This made available project preparation and project implementation grants for Members that are unable to find assistance from donor Members or international or regional organizations to implement provisions notified in category C of the TFA. In order to ensure a common basis for considering grant applications, an Expression of Interest (EoI) procedure has been established as the first step in any TFAF grant application. This EoI requires applicants to provide an explanation of their needs and steps taken to date to seek support. This information is then circulated to all relevant partners to ensure no duplication takes place with their existing technical assistance provision. If no partner intervenes to identify an existing program as a better source, the applicant is eligible to apply for a TFAF grant.

Project preparation grants are available up to US$30,000. Project implementation grants are available up to US$200,000. Requirements, terms and conditions for the grants are set out in operational rules specific to this program and are explained to applicants in guidelines. All information, including application forms, is available on the TFAF website (

While the EoI process provides a useful forecast of applications coming in the near future, given the safeguard nature of the grant program, it is impossible to make an accurate estimate as to how many grant applications will be received. Stakeholders will be given regular updates on application numbers and successful grant awards throughout 2019 and this information will also be available on the website.

Further work will take place throughout 2019, led by the TFAF staff member responsible for the grant program in order to establish and continually strengthen the project management, monitoring and evaluation of the grant program. To increase the awareness and understanding of the grant program's rules and application procedures, presentations on these topics will be included at all events organised and attended by TFAF throughout 2019.



Task 3: National Workshops

Based on priorities identified in bilateral discussions, during TFAF advocacy work and during other activities organized by the facility; National Workshops will be available, upon request, in the following areas:

  • activities with national authorities to assist with outstanding  category A, B and C notifications;
  • support for the establishment and strengthening of national trade facilitation committees (NTFCs);
  • 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 and experts from international or regional organizations and/or national customs administrations as appropriate. Special attention to the participation of women in the national workshops will be paid, where accurate participant data is available.

To increase complimentarity with efforts under Section A on matchmaking and funding, all workshops will include a segment dedicated to outreach with development partners present in-country.

Task 4: Regional and Sub-regional Workshops

With an increasing focus on implementation, Members have identified issues that are making it difficult for them to complete their notifications and establish functioning NTFCs; in particular a lack of cooperation and understanding of the TFA requirements by the various border agencies.  Based on observations of these challenges which have emerged in events with a focus on notification organized in 2017 and 2018, TFAF will further develop workshops in partnership with the STDF, World Bank Group, WCO, UNCTAD, UN-OHRLLS, and other organizations such as IPPC, OIE as well as specialists from WTO Members on border agency cooperation.

Such workshops will build on a pilot workshop delivered in Southern Africa in November 2018 to provide joint training for customs, agriculture, and transit  border authorities in developing countries. On the basis of the experience of delivering this pilot and of the feedback received, further border agency cooperation activities will take place in 2019 according to demand and in particular where countries are lagging behind in category B/C notifications, assessing needs, identifying donor and implementation partner support and moving towards implementation.

Such workshops will seek to improve border agency cooperation in the national committee by raising awareness of the TFA requirements, the roles of each agency at the border, the role of the national trade facilitation committee, and the benefits of a coordinated approach to border management and trade facilitation.  The overall aim is to enhance the effectiveness of the national committee so that they can complete any notifications currently due and will be in a position to prepare future notifications.

The TFAF would work with the agencies mentioned above in delivering this joint workshop(s) in order to encourage coordination and avoid duplication.   TFAF funding could fill in the gaps to ensure that all developing and least developed countries in the selected region(s) could send representatives from the key border agencies. The facility will pay special attention to the participation of women in WTO-organized  regional and sub-regional workshops will be paid.

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. TFAF will work with stakeholders in 2019 to explore further synergies between the two 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 anticipate further requests; however, this program will remain available in case a Member needs this type of support specifically in the context of preparing their notifications.



Task 6: Dedicated thematic workshops

In September 2018, TFAF funded capital-based officials from 63 developing countries (including 18 LDCs) to attend the WTO Trade Facilitation Committee meeting. To maximise the impact of this activity, TFAF organised technical training activities for the visiting officials around the committee meetings. Feedback on this activity was extremely positive, both in terms of the travelling officials and comments made by other delegates to the TF Committee including TFAF donors.

On the basis of experience gained in 2018 and including updates to the program based on the feedback received, the  Secretariat will organize and fund the participation of capital-based officials at select WTO Trade Facilitation Committee meetings; in particular meetings with a dedicated session or a side event 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. Continued attention will be paid to ensuring participation by government officials from LDCs as well as that of women in the dedicated thematic workshops.

Task 7: 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. Awareness raising and training in the use of the TFAF website is an ongoing task and is delivered in a cost-effective manner through activities described under task 8 below.

Reflecting the importance, positive feedback and user numbers of the website, the WTO hired a new staff member in 2018, with full-time responsibility to update and expand existing information as well as to grow the site and its tools in 2019.

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 throughout 2019.



Task 8: TFA Advocacy activities

While the scope of activities anticipated in 2019 is expected to grow to include the provision of TFAF Grants, 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. Based on lessons learned, 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. Such advocacy has proven to be a cost-effective method to deliver an accurate, consistent and aligned message on the TFA and the Facility, without the need to dedicate the necessary resources to organize and host national and regional events in all location globally.

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 active collection and sharing of information on implementation support programs through its website. Contacts with partners at advocacy events are essential to this process.


Annex 1

Budget Estimate for 2019





Task 1: Matchmaking activities



Task 2: Operation of TFAF grant funding program





Staff Member at grade 7 position

Monthly salary, insurance, and pension


  Accurate estimates cannot    be made at this time as to     the amount of funding that   will be distributed under the   grant program









Task 3: National workshops

          Up to 10


Task 4: Regional (or sub-regional) Workshops

          Up to 6


Task 5: National needs assessments



Task 6: Dedicated thematic workshops




Task 7: TFAF website

    Website maintenance and further development

35 days at 860 per day


Task 8: Advocacy

  • Participation in events outside Geneva

  • Printing brochures and publicity materials




Internship for Graduate Student



TOTAL (estimates for known costs. Not including grants)





N.B. The inclusion of TFAF Grants will adjust the proportion of resources under each heading.