Remarks by Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mark Linscott on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement
Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia
March 26, 2015
"Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I am here to express support for COMESA taking advantage of the new truly unique opportunities of the new WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation, which aims to reduce global trade costs by addressing inefficient and unpredictable customs and border procedures. This agreement, concluded in Bali at the WTO's 9th Ministerial Conference, has the potential to be transformational.
"Trade facilitation can do so much to increase Africa's competitiveness and attract private sector investment.
"The TFA sets the stage for more efficient customs and border procedures that could have dramatic results for each of your countries.
"As the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman, recently noted, we can already see the results of certain members' hard work in this area. For instance, container transit times from Mombassa to Kigali have declined from 21 days to 6 days, while associated transport costs are down by over $ 1,700 per container.
"Implementation of the TFA is widely recognized as having broader development benefits and will promote regional integration, private sector investment, and exports. Imagine the impact that implementation of TFA reforms could have on disaster relief, vaccine shipments, food security, and risks to food spoilage.
"Further, it takes into consideration the unique needs of individual developing countries by giving them considerable flexibility with regards to implementation- each developing country can determine its implementation schedule according to its own needs.
"However, to fully reap these benefit, WTO members need to ensure that this agreement enters into force and is fully implemented. In this regard, we support Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohammed's call for ratification by the time it hosts the WTO's next Ministerial Conference in Nairobi at the end of this year. We hope that Africa and COMESA can help lead the way, and we welcome that Mauritius recently submitted its ratification.
"Ratification will send a valuable signal to donors and to the private sector that you are committed to being a serious player in the global economy. The early movers are likely to be the ones to reap the greatest rewards, and the United States looks forward to working with those countries who demonstrate their commitment to implementation.