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Sri Lanka ratifies WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement
Jun '16
Sri Lanka has become the latest WTO member to ratify the new Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Sri Lanka's ambassador to the WTO, R.D. Susiri Kumararatne, presented his country's instrument of acceptance to Director-General Roberto Azevedo on May 31, according to a WTO press release.

The TFA which was concluded at the WTO's 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.

The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted the Agreement. With the acceptance by Sri Lanka, the number of TFA ratifications now stands at 81. Thus, the WTO has received three-quarters of the ratifications needed to bring the TFA into force.

On July 31, 2014 Sri Lanka submitted its Category A notification to the WTO indicating which provisions of the TFA it intends to implement upon entry into force of the agreement.

The TFA broke new ground for developing and least-developed countries in the way it will be implemented. For the first time in WTO history, the requirement to implement the Agreement was directly linked to the capacity of the country to do so. In addition, the Agreement states that assistance and support should be provided to help them achieve that capacity.

A Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) was also created at the request of developing and least-developed country members to help ensure that they receive the assistance needed to reap the full benefits of the TFA and to support the ultimate goal of full implementation of the new agreement by all members.

Implementation of the WTO TFA has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion per annum, according to the WTO's flagship World Trade Report released on 26 October 2015.

The Report also found that developing countries will benefit significantly from the TFA, capturing more than half of the available gains. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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