November 22, 2016
Chile and Swaziland ratified the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) this week. The submission of the two countries' instruments of acceptance means that almost 90 per cent of the ratifications needed to bring the TFA into force have now been received.
The purpose of the Agreement is to modernize and simplify customs and border procedures, and lower trade costs. It is expected that most economic gains will flow to developing countries. Negotiations were concluded in December 2013.
The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO's 164 members have formally accepted the Agreement. With the acceptance by Chile and Swaziland the number of TFA ratifications now stands at 98.
The WTO estimates that the TFA could boost global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion, with up to $730 billion accruing to developing countries and reduce trade costs by an average of over 14 percent, with average reduction of nearly 17 percent for least developed countries. Even in the event that some WTO Members do not move to fully implement the TFA, the real-world impact will be significant. Mechanisms are in place to assist developing countries implement the TFA.
Although Canada is already compliant with the vast majority of the TFA's provisions, legislative amendments are required in order to enable the country to comply with some specific provisions and to ratify the Agreement.
Bill C-13, presently before the House of Commons, adapts Canadian laws to these obligations and will allow Canada to ratify the agreement.