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WTO Members urged to start preparing for entry into force of Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)
The chairman of the Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation (PCTF), Esteban Conejos, told the committee on 3 March that the WTO has now received 81 “Category A” notifications from Members indicating which provisions of the TFA they will implement upon entry into force of the Agreement (or one year after entry into force for least developed countries — LDCs).
“What is even more encouraging is that we also started receiving a growing number of B and C notifications,” the chairman said. “This is especially important since we are getting closer to seeing the Trade Facilitation Agreement enter into force — which equally shortens the remaining time for submitting B and C-related inputs.”
Category B covers TFA commitments that a developing country or LDC member will implement after a transitional period following the entry into force of the Agreement, while Category C covers commitments that a developing country or LDC member will implement after a transitional period following the entry into force of the Agreement and that require technical assistance and capacity-building support to implement.
Notifications on Category B and C commitments are to be submitted by developing countries upon entry into force of the TFA, with LDCs given an additional year after entry into force to submit their notifications.
To date, 70 WTO Members have ratified the TFA, with 21 ratifications received since the PCTF's last meeting in mid-October 2015. Two-thirds of the WTO's membership must ratify the TFA in order for the Agreement to enter into force.
Several members outlined their ratification efforts during the PCTF meeting.
Brazil told Members that the TFA was now before its National Congress for approval and that it had taken preparatory steps to implement TFA provisions domestically. El Salvador said its legislative assembly ratified the TFA on 4 February and that it hoped to deposit its instrument of acceptance with the WTO shortly.
Nepal noted that it submitted its Category A notification in October 2015 and that it was taking steps to secure ratification soon. Nepal highlighted the importance of the TFA to landlocked countries but said it needed substantial technical and financial assistance to ensure implementation.
Pakistan, China and the European Union also spoke to underline their support for the TFA as well as the importance of the Agreement in reducing border costs and promoting trade. They also encouraged Members that have not done so to ratify the TFA and to submit their notifications.
The PCTF is responsible for ensuring the expeditious entry into force of the Agreement and to prepare for the efficient operation of the Agreement upon its entry into force.