Trade Booster: 110 countries including Oman join the land mark deal –
Geneva: An international pact that could boost global trade by up to $1 trillion per year entered into force on Wednesday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced in Geneva.
The Trade Facilitatation Agreement obliges countries to remove bureaucratic regulations that have been hampering commerce.
“This is the biggest reform of global trade in a generation,” WTO chief Roberto Azevedo said.
The agreement is the first WTO treaty to enter into force in the21-year history of the organisation.
If the pact is fully implemented, it would account for 0.5 per cent of the global economic output by 2030, Azevedo said.
Trade costs would be reduced by 14.3 per cent, according to WTO economists. WTO member countries will now have to reduce the documentation required for cross-border trade.
They also have to make their commerce legislation transparent, and they must build up an adequate infrastructure and customs administration to ensure that goods flow smoothly.
For example, Rwanda has already reduced the waiting time for trucks at its borders to 34 hours, down from 11 days in 2010, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported on Wednesday.
This saves importers and consumers $6 million a year, the UN body calculated.
Developing countries stand to profit the most from the agreement, the WTO stressed, as it will effectively expand the number of their export products.
Developing and least-developed countries will be allowed to implementthe pact according to their own timetables, depending on their capacity to implement the necessary changes. The WTO will assist these countries with know-how.
The agreement took effect after Rwanda, Oman, Chad and Jordan formally signed on, taking the number of participating countries above the required threshold of 110.
In a related development, Azevedo said he had not yet discussed trade issues with the new US administration but was confident the WTO could cope with any new US trade policy.
Azevedo said he did not know what trade policy President Donald Trump would adopt but had heard his concerns about “unfair trade” and suggestions he might withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and maybe the WTO itself.
Trump, whose policy motto is “America first”, has already pulled the United States back from creating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade agreement that many experts thought would give a big boost to the US economy.— Agencies