Workplan 2017

Target for 2017

This document sets out the work plan for the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF or the Facility) for 2017. 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 2016, 100 countries had submitted their instrument of acceptance (ratification) of the Agreement, 90 Countries had submitted their category[MC1]  A notifications. Only 6 countries had notified category B and C commitments.


The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO Membership have domestically ratified a Protocol of Amendment and notified the WTO of their acceptance of this Protocol.[1][MC2]  As of 28 November 2016, 100 WTO Members had completed this process so it is very likely that the Agreement will enter into force in 2017.

When the TFA enters into force, the category A, B and C notifications are due for developing countries that have ratified the Agreement. These notifications inform of the Member's implementation assistance needs. For this reason the main focus of the TFAF work in 2017 will be on matchmaking. The TFAF will also continue to provide assistance for ratification, ABC categorization, and national trade facilitation committees.

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.[2] 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 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 2017 activities is provided in Annex 1.

Activities to be conducted in 2017

A: Matchmaking and funding activities 

Task 1: Matchmaking

Developing countries must notify their category C commitments and their implementation assistance needs by the time the TFA enters into force - or as soon as the country presents its instrument of acceptance if after this date. The WTO Secretariat will assist Members to find assistance for the implementation of these category C provisions through the following methods:

  • Making the notifications available on the website so they are easily accessible to donors. Notifications that have already been received are already available.
  • Making statistics available on the provisions that are most notified under category C by region.
  • Providing country profiles for each developing and LDC member with information on implementation assistance and development partners. (We will need Members' and donors' assistance with the collection of data.)
  • Conducting events featuring available assistance programs and opportunities to meet with the donor partners.
  • Regular meetings with partner organizations and donors to enhance coordination and cooperation.


  • Helping individual Members find assistance through direct matchmaking with partners.
  • Conducting in-country matchmaking conferences for Members struggling to find the assistance they need.
  • Organizing meetings at the WTO between developing or LDC officials and donor partners – (with partners outside Geneva and capital based officials on conference call). (Two of such meetings were held in 2016 and Members found them helpful.)

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 have been unable to find assistance from other donor sources to implement the provisions of the TFA. The WTO Secretariat aims to have a final version of the operational guidelines for the grant program by the beginning of 2017. During 2017 the WTO Secretariat will develop supplementary materials to support this program, such as online application forms.

The launch of the grant program will be linked with the entry into force of the TFA. It is expected that it will be launched in 2017.

It is foreseen that the WTO will need an additional staff member to implement the grant program and to assist with an expected increase in requests for matchmaking.

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:

  • donor matchmaking conferences for WTO Members that are having trouble finding the assistance they need to implement provisions of the TFA;
  • activities with national authorities to support the notification of their category A, B and C notifications. As of 30 November 2016, 90 Members had notified category A commitments (those that are binding on legal entry into force of the TFA). Only 6 countries had notified their category B and C commitments. Activities are thus expected to focus on category B (those commitment where more time is sought) and Category C (disciplines where technical assistance support is being sought);
  • 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 Workshops

Workshops conducted at the regional and/or sub-regional level will aim to:

  • assist WTO Members to find the assistance they need to implement the provisions of the TFA;
  • assist in ratification of the TFA, notification of ABC commitments, operation of national TF committees and more generally promote understanding of the TFA;
  • 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 include a segment dedicated to outreach with development partners. This will support the matchmaking activities foreseen under task 1 above. These events will also aim to ensure that regional organizations, and other implementation assistance projects working in the region, have a good understanding of the TFA's special and differential treatment provisions. Here emphasis will be laid on explaining the notification requirements so donors can base their work plans on the deadlines submitted by the governments.

Task 5: National needs assessments

A total of 94 needs assessments have been conducted under the WTO needs assessment program.[3] Further needs assessments have been conducted by other partner organizations. Since most countries have already conducted a needs assessment we do not expect to receive any further requests; however, 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 events to focus on best practices in the implementation of trade facilitation measures, donor matchmaking, 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: Advanced course for chairs of national trade facilitation Committees

An advanced training course for working chairs of national trade facilitation committees will be offered in French and in Spanish in 2017. This course was offered twice in 2016 in English and proved to be extremely popular, with the number of applications far exceeding the available slots. (Both times this course was offered we received approximately 75 applications for 30 slots.)

This course focuses on building the capacity of the working chairs of national TF committees (meaning officials that actually run the meetings in the cases where a high level official is the chair). It helps participants develop or improve skills in the operation of a committee, such as ensuring effective cooperation of committee members, development of roadmaps and project proposals, presentation skills.

This course will be conducted in very close cooperation with our Annex D partners who will assist us to teach, facilitate, and coach the participants.

Task 8: Training materials and TFAF website

The WTO Secretariat will continue to add new resources to the TFAF website ( including case studies, training materials, and international standards and guidelines on best practices in the implementation of trade facilitation measures.

We will aim to expand the donor information that will assist Members to identify possible development partners and aid with donor coherence. We will create country profiles for each developing and LDC Member which will include information on implementation assistance being provided in the country (as mentioned in task 1), in addition to national contact points for the NTFC chair, Geneva delegate, and transit and donor coordinators. The website will continue to provide news and information on events and it will eventually be the portal through which Members can apply for WTO TFA grants.

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 renew a web maintenance contract in order to allow us to continue to enhance the functioning of the current tools, fix bugs and add some small-scale 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 participate 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.

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

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

[3] A needs assessment is a self-assessment in which stakeholders conduct a gap and situational analysis of their national situation as compared to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. In addition they determine measure by measure the SDT category, additional time and assistance needed in order to implement the measure. These one-week events are conducted, upon request, using materials based on the TFA under the guidance of three facilitators. Implementing this program involves logistical arrangements for each event, supporting the national organizers, training of the Geneva delegate, overseeing and organizing facilitators from WTO or other international or regional organizations and/or national customs administrations.





 Task 1: Matchmaking activities



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

 Temporary TFAF Staff Member at grade 9 position
 Monthly salary, insurance, and pension (13,799.25 per month) 

 (No estimates can 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 Workshops

 Up to 6


 Task 5: National needs assessments



 Task 6: Dedicated thematic workshops



 Task 7: Delivery of advanced trade facilitation courses



 Task 8: Training materials and TFAF website

 Printing brochures

 Website maintenance and further development



35 days at 860 per day




 Task 9: TFAF promotion and coherence activities

 Participation in events outside Geneva



 Internship for Graduate Student