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The Trade Facilitation impasse is over

Yesterday, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman released a statement welcoming an agreement between the US and India on elements aimed at unlocking progress at the WTO.

The announced agreement should pave the way for full implementation of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), the first multilateral trade agreement to be concluded in the history of the WTO. The agreement also reflects shared understandings regarding the WTO’s work on food security.

On the basis of this breakthrough with India, it is now expected to be brought to the WTO, where all Members, along with DG Roberto Azevedo, will try to reach a consensus that enables full implementation of all elements of the landmark Bali Package, including the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The two key elements as reported are:

  • U.S. and India Move WTO’s Landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) Forward– The first multilateral agreement to be concluded since the WTO’s inception 20 years ago – should be implemented without conditions, on the basis of a standard legal instrument for implementing new WTO agreements. If accepted by the full WTO Membership, this approach will enable fully multilateral implementation of the TFA, unlocking immense commercial opportunities for all WTO Members, including especially developing country Members, by reducing costs and administrative burdens associated with moving goods across borders.
  • U.S. and India Reach Understanding on Specific Food Security Programs – Both countries have reached an understanding on implementation of a December 2013 WTO decision regarding specific food security programs maintained by some developing countries. The bilateral agreement makes clear that a mechanism under which WTO Members will not challenge such food security programs under WTO dispute settlement procedures will remain in place until a permanent solution regarding this issue has been agreed and adopted. It also sets out elements for an intensified program of work and negotiations to arrive at such a permanent solution.

 

Israel welcomes the positive news and looks forward to working on this matter at the WTO.

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