WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation

The WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation is the most recent of the WTO Agreements and is the first deliverable of the Doha Round of trade negotiations. WTO Members adopted at the 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali, 3-6 December 2013, the text of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA) after ten years of negotiations. The entry into force of the Agreement is still pending but the adoption of the text is already considered a milestone for the WTO and for trade facilitation. The Agreement will enter into force once 2/3 of the WTO members have notified its acceptance (*1).

Conform with the negotiating mandate of §27 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration, the Agreement clarifies and improves “relevant aspects of the GATT Articles V, GATT Article VIII and GATT Article X 1994 with a view to further expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit”, facilitates “effective cooperation among Members on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues”, and enhance “assistance and support for capacity building” for developing and least developed country Members (*2).

The Agreement contains provisions in the following areas:

  • Publication and availability of information
  • Opportunity to comment, information before entry into force and consultation
  • Advance rulings
  • Appeal and review procedures
  • Other measures to enhance impartiality, non-discrimination and transparency (notifications for enhanced controls or inspections, detention and test procedures)
  • Disciplines and fees and charges imposed on or in connection with importation and exportation
  • Release and clearance of goods
  • Border Agency Cooperation
  • Movement of Goods under Customs Control intended for import
  • Formalities connected with importation and exportation and transit
  • Freedom of Transit

In addition to these technical provisions, the Agreement contains provisions detailing the so-called special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed country Members, delaying implementation of the Agreement and supporting the building of implementation capacity in those Members.

The full text of the Agreement can be found here and on WTO website . You can also find more information in the TFIG WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation Itinerary.

(*1) For more details on the entry into force of the Agreement see §2 and §3 of the Draft Ministerial Declaration WT/MIN(13)/36
(*2) Citations all from WT/MIN(13)/36

Pages that cite the WTO Agreement: