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Saving Money, Growing Trade, Raising Incomes Worldwide: The New WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Improving trade facilitation around the world is a simple, common-sense change that will boost trade by reducing costs and delays. The Trade Facilitation Agreement will provide predictability, simplicity and uniformity in customs and other border procedures. Such improvements will make it easier for businesses of all shapes and sizes to grow because of exporting – and support jobs through that trade.

The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, concluded at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in 2013 after many years of negotiations, establishes binding commitments for the 161 WTO Members to: expedite movement, release and clearance of goods; improve transparency, through commitments on publication and advance rulings; and improve cooperation among WTO Members on customs matters.

It also includes innovative flexibilities to help developing countries fully customize their timing for implementation of the obligations. The agreement will increase customs efficiency and effective collection of revenue, and help small businesses access new export opportunities through measures like transparency in customs practices, reduction of documentary requirements, and processing of documents before goods arrive.

The cost savings of trade facilitation pay real dividends:

  • The OECD estimates that for every one-percent reduction in global trade costs, global incomes go up by $40 billion.
  • The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement can cut trade costs by almost 14.5 percent for low-income countries and ten percent for high-income countries.
  • Other studies estimate that significant trade facilitation like that supported in this agreement could increase global GDP by almost $1 trillion.

In the United States, American manufacturers, producers of perishable goods, freight forwarders, logistics providers, express carriers and entrepreneurs seeking to reach export markets particularly stand to benefit from this agreement. From a development perspective, the United States worked hard to ensure provisions to help least-developed countries meet new obligations and gain their share of benefits in cost savings and income growth.

Individual WTO Members are now undertaking domestic processes necessary to bring the Agreement into force. To achieve this, two-thirds of the WTO’s 161 Members – that is, 108 Members – need to notify the WTO that they have completed their domestic procedures to accept the Agreement.

The United States completed this process in January 2015. The United States is committed to seeing the TFA enter into force as soon as possible, and ideally by the time Kenya hosts the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December.

Visit for full agreement text.