According to WTO “A major milestone for the global trading system was reached on 22 February 2017 when the first multilateral deal concluded in the 21 year history of the World Trade Organization entered into force. In receiving four more ratifications for the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), the WTO has obtained the two-thirds acceptance of the agreement from its 164 members needed to bring the TFA into force.”
The TFA 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.
Sri Lankan businesses engaging in imports and exports will be the main beneficiary of improved efficiency of border administration procedures.
Developing countries like Sri Lanka can divide implementation of the agreement into three categories:
- Category A: provisions that the member will implement by the time the Agreement enters into force (or in the case of a least-developed country within one year after entry into force)
- Category B: provisions that the member will implement after a transitional period following the entry into force of the Agreement
- Category C: provisions that the member will implement on a date after a transitional period following the entry into force of the Agreement and requiring the acquisition of assistance and support for capacity building
Sri Lanka has already submitted its Category A commitments. The attached files provide a summary of Articles submitted and details of the provisions of each article. The Sri Lankan Government has to implement these immediately.
The country is expected to submit Category B and C commitments soon. When submitting what the country will do under category B, the government first has to give indicative dates of implementation and within one year has to provide definitive dates of implementation.
Sri Lanka being a country, where implementation of policies, promises by government remains weak, the TFA provides a trading community with a good opportunity to lock in implementation dates.
The complete text of the trade facilitation agreement can be accessed from https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tradfa_e/tradfatheagreement_e.htm