UN agencies strengthen cooperation for trade facilitation implementation
(Geneva) – Three key UN agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today to strengthen their support for developing countries as they implement the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA).
Under the terms of the MoU, the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will leverage their unique strengths, products and services to provide a coordinated and integrated programme of support to developing countries implementing the WTO TFA, also known as the Bali Agreement.
‘The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement presents a great opportunity for developing and least developed countries to enhance their participation in the global economy, expand trade and create employment at the local level,’ UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said. ‘By strengthening our collaboration, we are better positioned to help developing countries realise these potential gains. This is at the core of the work of the United Nations and the WTO TFA is an excellent catalyst to help achieve this goal.’
The three agencies emphasised their longstanding work in the simplification and harmonization of international trade procedures, and the opportunity to enhance trade facilitation implementation in developing countries and least developed countries.
‘Our wide range of UN recommendations, standards and tools in trade facilitation are freely available to all UN Member States,’ UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach said. "Through this strengthened cooperation, we will enhance the capacity of countries to cut red tape, remove regulatory and procedural barriers to trade, and significantly reduce their cost of doing business."
‘Effective trade facilitation is a win-win scenario for both trade and governments,’ said Arancha González, ITC Executive Director. ‘This integrated approach will greatly strengthen our capacity to support the business community to benefit from the WTO Agreement. Ensuring that small and medium-sized enterprises benefit fully from the WTO TFA is crucial to ensuring that the potential gains from the Agreement are realized on the ground, and that they have a real impact on the cost of doing business in developing and least developed countries.’
Cooperation between the agencies will concentrate on helping countries identify, categorise and implement the measures that they committed to under the WTO TFA.
Actions will focus initially on assisting countries to establish the necessary institutional arrangements for implementing the agreement – such as setting up national trade facilitation committees – and ensuring that countries are trained in using the various UN recommendations and tools available for implementing the measures in the agreement.
These include ensuring better and easier access to information for traders; facilitating greater predictability and reliability of procedures through simplified formalities, documentation and information flows using international standards; and the adoption of facilities such as single windows for trade – all of this in close collaboration with the WTO and the donor community.
Specific areas of collaboration include:
- Joint missions to assist countries identify trade facilitation needs and approach to implementing the WTO TFA
- Joint development and maintenance of the UN Trade Facilitation Implementation Guide (tfig.unece.org)
- Joint publications related to trade facilitation implementation
- Joint maintenance of repositories of Trade Facilitation Committees and related matters (http://unctad.org/tfcommittees)
- Collaboration in the development and maintenance of UN Trade Facilitation Recommendations and Standards on Trade Facilitation (www.unece.org/cefact.html)
About the International Trade Centre - ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the Millennium Development Goals.www.intracen.org
For further information, please contact:
Chief, trade Facilitation and Policy for Business
E: aggarwal [at] intracen.org
Chief, trade Facilitation Section
Trade Logistics Branch, of
Technology and Logistics
E: jan.hoffmann [at] unctad.org
Deputy Director, Economic
Cooperation, Trade, and Land
P: +41 22 917 11 78
E: tom.butterly [at] unece.org
Contact: Jarle Hetland, ITC, Media Officer
P: +41 22 730 0145
M: +41 759 829 180
E: hetland [at] intracen.org