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United States Takes Final Step Toward WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

January 23, 2015

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman formally delivered the United States’ letter of acceptance of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo today in Davos, Switzerland.  The delivery of the letter is the final step that the United States must take toward the entry into force of this hard won agreement that promises to improve trade efficiency and is projected to generate hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity.

The United States is the third WTO Member to follow through with its letter of acceptance; Singapore and Hong Kong have also submitted letters.  Ambassador Froman noted the importance of working towards timely entry into force of the Agreement and moving quickly so that its benefits  begin to flow.  

“The Agreement will unlock immense commercial opportunities for all developing and developed countries alike.  These benefits can only be fully realized with implementation of this Agreement.  We all want to start enjoying the benefits and we hope other Members will take this crucial next step as soon as possible.”

The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which was agreed to at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013, is the first multilateral agreement to be concluded since the WTO’s inception 20 years ago. 

The Agreement contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.  This Agreement promises major reductions in costs and administrative burdens associated with moving goods across borders.  This is especially the case for developing countries, which, by some estimates, may see reductions in  trade costs of up to 15 percent. 

Ambassador Froman outlined efforts underway to implement the Agreement.

“We are working with developing countries to help support effective implementation of this Agreement,”said Ambassador Froman.  “In fact, we are already considering how to best support countries who are committed to implementation – teaming up with other governments and the private sector.”

Last November, WTO Members adopted a protocol to add the Agreement to  the WTO Agreement and opening  the process for individual Members to formally accept the Agreement. 

The Trade Facilitation Agreement will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO’s 160 Members have completed their domestic legal procedures and submitted instruments of acceptance to the WTO.