WTO members gear up for trade facilitation deal
A number of World Trade Organization (WTO) members agreed on Saturday to step up efforts to implement a trade facilitation deal that could add US$1 trillion to the global economy.
The commitment was achieved during a mini-ministerial meeting of the WTO attended by 22 countries, including the US, the European Union (EU), Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Nigeria, Switzerland and Turkey and WTO director general Roberto Azevedo, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Developed nations had expressed their preparedness to provide financial aid for technical assistance to developing and least-developed countries in order to implement the deal, said Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan.
“The next step will be to formulate the types of suitable assistance,” he said after the meeting.
The trade facilitation deal was one of the three accords achieved during the 160-member WTO ministerial meeting in Bali last December, marking its first-ever global trade deal since its creation in 1995.
The other two accords pertained to measures to enhance agriculture in developing countries, including temporary protection for food security programs and a reform of export subsidies, and to promote exports in least-developed countries through duty-free quota-free market access and simplified rules of origin.
Concrete actions to materialize from the so-called “Bali package” are expected to be completed in 12 months.
The trade facilitation agreement aims to simplify customs procedures and ease the flow of goods and services across nations, such as through uniform documentation requirements for the release and clearance of goods, reduce transaction costs.
It could create up to 21 million jobs and generate expansion of up to 10 percent in developing country exports and 4.5 percent in developed country exports, according to the WTO’s estimate.
A preparatory committee to formulate the technical details for the implementation of the trade facilitation agreement would be established soon, said Trade Ministry director for APEC and other international organizations Denny Kurnia.
The committee would lay out a protocol with July this year as the deadline to implement the agreement, he said.
“If the protocol is ready, it will be offered to member countries for approval,” Denny said, adding the trade facilitation agreement could come into effect when a minimum of two-thirds of the members had accepted the protocol.
Indonesia will have to issue a presidential decree to ratify the protocol and also change contradictory regulations, such as the Customs Law, according to Denny.