Washington, DC – U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that the United States will contribute $150,000 for technical assistance to support developing countries’ participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation negotiations. Specifically, the funds are being provided in response to some developing countries’ request to update the assessment of their technical assistance and implementation needs with respect to various trade facilitation and customs reforms that are currently being negotiated. Needs assessments were conducted in the area of trade facilitation in 2007-2010, and in response to the request of some Members, the WTO will be updating those assessments to reflect changes since the initial assessments.
“This contribution reflects our commitment to the Trade Facilitation negotiations and our support for developing countries’ participation in those negotiations” Ambassador Kirk said. “The elimination of unnecessary red tape and modernization of customs procedures that will result from trade facilitation improvements has the potential to deliver significant development gains, and we remain committed to working with our developing country partners to make these gains achievable.”
The U.S. contribution, which was approved by Congress, will be part of a technical assistance fund that will be used to help developing nations identify the reforms they would need to make under a trade facilitation agreement and the technical assistance needed to implement those reforms. The United States was one of the WTO Members that assisted in the initial needs assessments in 2007-2010.
The United States’ contribution to support the WTO Trade Facilitation needs assessment was appropriated by Congress as part of the funds it provides to the U.S. Department State for voluntary contributions to international organizations. It is just one part of much broader U.S. assistance efforts. Overall U.S. support for trade capacity building (or “aid for trade”) since the Doha Round began in 2001, has now surpassed $13 billion. In the area of trade facilitation, the United States has provided over $2.6 billion in technical assistance and capacity building to developing countries and least-developed countries.
The WTO Trade Facilitation negotiations seek to clarify and improve certain provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT) with a view to further expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. The initial trade facilitation needs assessment project was conducted between September 2007 and December 2010 and oversaw the implementation of 94 national self-assessments in 60 developing countries and 34 least-developed countries. These assessments analyzed whether Members were in compliance with numerous proposed trade facilitation measures and tried to identify the reasons for non-compliance, the actions needed to implement the measures, and the technical assistance and capacity building needs and priorities. The WTO is in the process of designing a program to update these needs assessments, for those Members that request such updates, to reflect changes since the initial needs assessments were conducted.