The World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) is an international agreement that aims to streamline customs procedures and reduce trade barriers among member countries. The TFA was adopted at the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013 and entered into force on February 22, 2017, when two-thirds of the WTO’s 164 members had ratified it.
The TFA consists of 12 Articles that cover a range of provisions related to customs procedures and trade facilitation. These articles are as follows:
Article 1: Publication and availability of information: This article concerns the publication of information regarding laws, regulations, and procedures related to import, export, and transit.
Article 2: Opportunity to comment, information before entry into force, and appeal and review: This article involves a provision for stakeholders to provide comments on proposed laws and regulations before they take effect, as well as the right to appeal decisions related to customs procedures.
Article 3: Advance rulings: This article requires countries to publish and provide advance rulings on classifications, origin, and valuation of goods.
Article 4: Procedures for appeal and review: This article establishes procedures for appeal and review of decisions made by customs authorities.
Article 5: Other measures to enhance impartiality, non-discrimination, and transparency: This article requires countries to take measures to ensure impartiality, non-discrimination, and transparency in customs procedures.
Article 6: Formalities connected with importation and exportation: This article requires countries to simplify and harmonize import and export procedures, and to make them faster and more efficient.
Article 7: Release and clearance of goods: This article requires countries to make the release and clearance of goods at the border as quick and efficient as possible.
Article 8: Border agency cooperation: This article requires countries to cooperate and coordinate with border agencies to facilitate trade.
Article 9: Movement of goods intended for transit: This article requires countries to simplify and harmonize transit procedures to facilitate the movement of goods through their territories.
Article 10: Customs cooperation: This article requires countries to cooperate in customs matters, including the exchange of information and best practices.
Article 11: Assistance for developing and least developed countries: This article requires developed countries to provide assistance to developing and least developed countries to help them implement the TFA.
Article 12: Technical assistance and capacity building: This article requires countries to provide technical assistance and capacity building to each other to facilitate trade.
In conclusion, the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement is an important international agreement that aims to streamline customs procedures and reduce trade barriers among member countries. Its 12 articles cover a range of provisions related to customs procedures and trade facilitation, and they are designed to make trade more efficient and faster. Member countries have a responsibility to implement these provisions to the best of their ability, in order to promote economic growth and development.