WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Enters into Force

Message from INCU President, Prof David Widdowson

On 22 February 2017, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that its historic Trade Facilitation Agreement had entered into force following its ratification by two-thirds of the WTO’s 164 members. In doing so, the WTO Director-General, H. E. Ambassador Roberto Azevedo declared that it is now time to begin the work of turning the potential benefits of the Agreement into reality.

The Director-General has previously publicly acknowledged the work of the INCU in developing and promoting the Agreement, including the development of the first version of WTO Trade Facilitation Self-Assessment Guide in 2007. This guide was used by approximately 100 developing and least developed countries to assess their trade facilitation needs and priorities which enabled them to participate more effectively in the WTO Trade Facilitation negotiations.

Recognising the importance of trade facilitation to global economic growth, the resolution of the INCU on the future direction of the organisation (Baku, 23 May 2014) determined that the organisation would support the work of the WTO Committee on Trade Facilitation through a range of initiatives, including empirical studies to help inform decision making. I would therefore encourage all INCU members and associates to continue to pursue activities that support implementation of the Agreement, including initiatives that will help to maximise the benefits for developing and least developed countries.

As noted by the WTO Director-General, “Now, working together, we have the responsibility to implement the Agreement and make those benefits a reality”. On behalf of all INCU members and affiliates, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the WTO on this important achievement, which, in the Director-General’s words, represents the biggest reform of global trade this century. The WTO announcement can be found here.

Professor David Widdowson
President, INCU