WTO breakthrough on trade facilitation agreement

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The Minerals Council of Australia welcomes the entry into force of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement as a significant milestone for the multilateral trading system.

The WTO announced in Geneva yesterday that more than 110 countries around the world had now ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement, the threshold required for the deal to enter into force.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement will reduce the costs of importing and exporting goods by cutting red tape and streamlining customs and border administration procedures.

The entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement will be a shot in the arm for global trade growth.

It comes at a time when it is critical to maintain support for a rules-based international trading system and for continued trade liberalisation to drive economic growth and development.

Economic analysis has estimated that full implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement would cut trade costs in WTO member countries by an average of 14.3 per cent through simplifying, modernising and harmonising export and import processes.

A WTO study estimates these reductions in trade costs would boost global trade by up to $US1 trillion a year, with the biggest gains flowing to developing economies.

The entry into force of this new global trade deal is a positive development at a time when the multilateral trading system has been under pressure and protectionist elements have sought to block trade liberalisation.

Australia played a key role in negotiating the Trade Facilitation Agreement under both the current Coalition Government and the former Labor Government. Trade Ministers Craig Emerson, Andrew Robb and Steven Ciobo are to be congratulated for their involvement.

The Australian Government should now work with developing economies to provide technical assistance to help them implement the reforms under the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Helping developing economies in our region to simplify customs, licensing and transit procedures at the border will improve opportunities for Australian businesses to export into new markets, supporting Australian growth and jobs.





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