Summary of Asia Pacific countries’ implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

With Chad, Jordan, Oman, and Rwanda officially submitting their instruments of acceptance to the WTO Secretariat on 22 February 2017, a total of 112 of the WTO’s 164 member countries have ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). This allows the agreement to enter into force, as it has crossed the required two-thirds acceptance threshold.

The TFA is aimed at reducing the delays and costs incurred by importers and exporters at borders, due to inefficient control and clearance procedures, as well as unnecessary border formalities. Many studies have been done since the TFA was signed in 2013, with a wide variety of claims as to what the TFA’s implementation may mean for growth in trade and GDPs around the world. Although they may disagree on quantification, the general message is consistent: implementing the TFA will benefit all countries and all importers and exporters. This makes it far less controversial than Preferential Trade Agreements, which are increasingly believed to benefit some but harm others. Consequently, implementation of the TFA commitments should be less politically sensitive.