The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has welcomed the entry into force of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)—a landmark global trade agreement which could provide a boost to global trade flows of over US$1trillion.
Two-thirds of WTO member states have now ratified the TFA, with Rwanda, Chad, Oman, Jordan becoming the latest of 110 countries to ratify the agreement. Reaching this threshold means the TFA now becomes an official part of the multilateral trading system which covers more than 96% of global GDP.
The TFA—the first multilateral trade agreement to enter into force in over two decades—aims to make trade easier and simpler by cutting red-tape at borders. ICC has estimated that the deal could support the creation of some 20 million jobs worldwide— the vast majority in developing countries.
ICC Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said: “The entry into force of the TFA is a watershed moment for global trade. The reality today is that many small businesses find themselves unable to trade internationally due to complex customs requirements. By cutting unnecessary red-tape at borders, the TFA will have a transformational effect on the ability of entrepreneurs in developing countries to access global markets.”
Mr Mittal added: “The TFA can help ensure that, for the first time, all companies—regardless of size or location—can benefit from global trade. The entry into force of the agreement could not come at a more important moment given the imperative to make global growth more inclusive.”
ICC has been a leading proponent of the TFA, playing a key role in the 2013 negotiations that led to the agreement and working closely with the WTO and other international organizations to coordinate and support the deal’s implementation.
John Danilovich, ICC Secretary General, said: “ICC has tirelessly championed the TFA because we know that making trade easier through simple customs reforms can provide a major boost to small business growth. It’s estimated that the TFA could increase SME exports by 80% in some economies. This means more jobs, more consumer choice and—ultimately—more inclusive development.”
Mr Danilovich also called on governments to take action to implement the TFA: “The entry into force of the TFA is just one step to making the potential benefits of this landmark agreement a reality. Governments must work without delay to implement the provisions of the TFA working hand-in-hand with local businesses to identify key bottlenecks to trade across national borders.”
ICC Ghana Secretary General Emmanuel Doni-Kwame said ICC Ghana with the support of AGI, World Trade Centre Accra, GUTA, Shipowners Association of Ghana, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, FAGE, Ghana Employers Association, Ghana Journalist Association, West Blue Consulting, Ghana Shippers Authority and the BUSAC Fund encouraged the Ministry of Trade and the Parliament of Ghana to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement. This goal was achieved in January when Ghana became the 104th member country to ratify the TFA
Valentina Mintah CEO of West Blue Consulting and a member of ICC Ghana said the Ghana National Single Window, a Trade Facilitation programme, plays a key role in the execution of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, with up to 15 Sub Articles covered by the programme. With the entry into force of the TFA, we are confident of achieving a further reduction in time and cost of doing business in Ghana, whilst providing a level playing field for all trade participants.
ICC is actively supporting the implementation of the TFA through the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation—a major public-private partnership supported by a number of donor governments and international businesses. The Alliance is currently rolling out trade facilitation projects in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Viet Nam based on TFA standards.