05 January 2016, Sweetcrude, Accra — Ghana’s instrument of acceptance was yesterday submitted for its Trade Facilitation Agreement, TFA, to the secretariat of the World Trade Organisation ahead of Nigeria and other African countries.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement 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 and it will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted the Agreement.
In addition to Ghana, other WTO members that have also accepted the TFA includes Hong Kong, China, Singapore, the United States, Mauritius, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Botswana, Trinidad and Tobago, the Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Niger, Belize, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, China, Liechtenstein, Lao PDR, New Zealand, Togo, Thailand, the European Union (on behalf of its 28 member states).
Others are the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Pakistan, Panama, Guyana, Côte d’Ivoire, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Kenya, Myanmar, Norway, Viet Nam, Brunei, Ukraine, Zambia, Lesotho, Georgia, Seychelles, Jamaica, Mali, Cambodia, Paraguay, Turkey, Brazil, Macao China, the United Arab Emirates, Samoa, India, the Russian Federation, Montenegro, Albania, Kazakhstan.
Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, Madagascar, the Republic of Moldova, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Iceland, Chile, Swaziland, Dominica, Mongolia, Gabon, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Canada have also accepted the TFA.
According to a 2015 study carried out by WTO economists, full implementation of the TFA would reduce members’ trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent, with developing countries having the most to gain.
The TFA also has the ability to reduce the time to import goods by over a day and a half while also reducing time to export by almost two days, representing a reduction of 47 per cent and 91 per cent respectively over the current average. The TFA also has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion.
The TFA broke new ground for developing countries and LDCs 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.
To date, 104 WTO Members have ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement (deposited an instrument of acceptance).
Only 6 ratifications are now needed for the Agreement to enter into force.
Reacting to the development, a seasoned logistics expert, Mr. Lucky Amiwero said that it was unfortunate that Ghana has gone ahead of Nigeria in this regard.
He explained that Ghana will do anything to gain any form of economic benefit adding that Nigeria needs to take a cue from that country.