Working Papers

WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement: Developments since Bali

WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement: Developments since Bali

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24 Aug 2016

Author(s): Petros Shayanowako

The landmark decision by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) members in December 2013 in Bali at the 9th Ministerial Conference on a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) remains the most key of recent achievements of the WTO, the first multilateral trade agreement concluded since the establishment of the WTO in 1994 by the Marrakesh Agreement, commonly referred to as the WTO Agreement.

After the historic agreement by the 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali, the rest of the work on the finalisation of the TFA was assigned to the WTO General Council. The General Council, which consists of the entire WTO membership, was mandated by the 9th Ministerial Conference to undertake all preparatory work necessary to bring the TFA into force. The major work to be done was the preparation and adoption of the Protocol of Amendment to the WTO Agreement.

This paper explores developments following the endorsement of the TFA by WTO members in December 2013. In particular the paper will take stock of the members that have ratified the TFA to date, including a review of the trade facilitation measures that the countries have notified to the WTO under the different categories. More focus will be on the African countries, members of the WTO that have made notifications. Such focus would assist in informing the negotiations under both the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) and the envisaged Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The paper will attempt to discern any trends in the notifications by these African countries as that would assist members of both the TFTA and the CFTA in developing regional approaches to trade facilitation under the envisaged new Free Trade Areas.


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