WTO: 2015 NEWS ITEMS
17 December 2015
WTO receives six additional ratifications for Trade Facilitation Agreement
The WTO has received six additional ratifications for the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), bringing up to 63 the number of WTO members that have formally accepted the TFA. Several ratifications were submitted by ministers during the organization’s Tenth Ministerial Conference in Nairobi.
U Win Myint, SIO MINT. Myanmar’s Union Minister of the Ministry of Commerce, presented his country’s instrument of acceptance to Director-General Roberto Azevêdo in Nairobi on 16 December.
Børge Brende, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, also handed over his country’s instrument of acceptance to the Director-General on 16 December.
Additional instruments of acceptance were received from Viet Nam and Brunei on 15 December, and from Ukraine and Zambia on 16 December.
Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali(BALI IKO INDONESIA USIJE UKADHANI ETI BALI NI KISWAHILI ETI) Ministerial Conference, 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.
The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted the Agreement.
In addition to Myanmar, Norway, Viet Nam, Brunei, Zambia and Ukraine, the following WTO members have also accepted the TFA: 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), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Pakistan, Panama, Guyana, Côte d’Ivoire, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Kenya.
The TFA broke new ground for developing and least-developed countries 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.
Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion per annum, according to the WTO’s flagship World Trade Report released on 26 October. Significantly, the Report also found that developing countries will benefit significantly from the TFA, capturing more than half of the available gains.
The World Trade Report 2015 is available here.
WTO 10th Ministerial Conference
Fisheries Subsidies Ministerial Statement on behalf of Australia, Argentina, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Iceland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu and OECS Economic Union WTO Members (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines)
Acknowledging that the future of marine capture fisheries is an urgent resource problem facing the international community, and recognizing the importance of taking measures aimed at the conservation and sustainable management of fisheries, including disciplines on fisheries subsidies;
Recognizing the crucial role of fisheries in ensuring food security, employment and livelihoods in developing countries, in particular LDCs;
Recognizing that fisheries subsidies contribute to economic losses in the fisheries sector and create serious distortions in global fish markets and serious impacts on food security and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries, and that effectively addressing fisheries subsidies will deliver trade, economic, development and environmental benefits;
Concerned that the world’s fisheries resources continue to decline and are in
certain cases at risk of collapse, with nearly 30% of global stocks classified as being overfished by the FAO in 2014; yet the billions of dollars a year spent by governments on harmful fisheries subsidies have increased and continue to be a major contributing factor to this situation; and that there is also diminishing room for growth in catches through increased fishing effort, with 61% of stocks classified as being fully fished;
Considering that the WTO must play a central role in achieving effective disciplines on fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity, and that action is urgently needed to control, reduce and eventually eliminate fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity;
We accordingly have reached the following shared understandings:
- We will seek to reinvigorate work in the WTO aimed at achieving ambitious and effective disciplines on fisheries subsidies, which should include, but not be limited to, prohibitions on subsidies:
(a) for fishing that negatively affect overfished fish stocks; and
(b) provided to vessels or operators engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,
and we commit not to provide any such subsidies.
- We reaffirm the Rio+20 commitment to refrain from introducing, extending or enhancing subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and reaffirm the commitment in Target 14.6 of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies;
- We will seek to achieve additional ambitious and effective WTO disciplines beyond those described in paragraph 1 with the goal of eliminating all subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity and enhancing transparency.
- We recognise that special and differential treatment is integral to the work on any new disciplines described in paragraph 3, but must be appropriate and not undermine their effectiveness. Basic disciplines of the type described in paragraph 1 should apply equally to all Members.
- We will continue to seek appropriate enhanced WTO transparency and reporting to enable the evaluation of the trade and resource effects of fisheries subsidies programmes.
Nairobi, December 2015
Adjustments may be made to take into account the outcomes of the WTO Tenth Ministerial Conference.