Container ship; Source: iStock.com/sandiegoa

© iStock.com/sandiegoa

After lengthy negotiations, the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has finally entered into force. The agreement on trade facilitation provides for transparent customs procedures and binding tariff information, and aims at the introduction or improvement of electronic advance notification procedures and good cooperation between customs authorities.

Federal Minister Brigitte Zypries said: "Free and fair trade for all countries – this is the right answer to protectionist trends. This agreement facilitates trade, cuts customs red tape and costs, and benefits in particular developing countries. It is the first multilateral trade agreement that has entered into force since the foundation of the World Trade Organization in 1995. This is not only a major impetus for international trade and the WTO, but also good news for all of us."

Several studies show that the implementation of the agreement can result in a reduction of the cost of trade by up to 10 % in industrial states and by no less than 16 % in developing countries and in the least developed countries (LDCs). Furthermore, it will have a positive impact in terms of reducing poverty and increasing employment.

Support for the implementation of the agreement will be provided to developing countries and in particular to LDCs. For this purpose, Germany, together with other industrial states and in cooperation with companies operating around the world, has established the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation. The Alliance pools resources from governments and business to promote the implementation of the agreement in developing countries.