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The EU and the WTO | Brussels, 22 July 2014

EU welcomes a new WTO fund to support developing countries’ customs reforms

The EU welcomes today’s announcement by the WTO that it will set up a fund to help Developing Countries and Least Developed Countries implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement. The deal, approved last December by the WTO’s 159 members at the time, aims to streamline customs procedures around the world.

The purpose of the new "Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility", as the fund is called, is to make sure that every developing country has the technical assistance it needs to implement the Agreement. The Facility will also ensure the coherence and transparency of the existing customs-related technical assistance and make it more effective.

'We welcome today's announcement and trust that this good news on technical assistance will pave the way for developing countries to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement,' said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. 'The EU is fully committed to supporting trade facilitation reforms around the world and to ensuring the availability of funding. That's why we will be contributing significantly to this new instrument.'

Even before the creation of this WTO Facility, the EU Commissioners for Trade and for Development Cooperation already pledged €400 million for trade facilitation over five years. This will mostly be accessible through existing development programmes. To complement the development programmes, the EU is also a founding donor of the Trade Facilitation Support Program, recently launched by the World Bank. This is a rapid-response provider of technical assistance that is already open to requests for support.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement

The Trade Facilitation Agreement is the first concrete result of the Doha Round of trade negotiations launched 13 years ago. It was agreed last December at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference, as part of the so called "Bali Package".

The implementation of the Agreement should: increase trade flows, both for exports and imports, expand duty collection revenue (due to higher trade volume and better detection of fraud), and improve efficiency of customs administrations.

The Agreement offers Developing and Least Developed Countries an unprecedented favourable treatment. It links the implementation to technical assistance. Developing Countries are able to choose the duration of their transitional periods and will only be requested to implement those commitments for which they have acquired the capacity. They are however required to notify by the end of July 2014 which provisions they will implement upon the entry into force of the Agreement.

For more information

Memo on the Trade Facilitation Agreement
EU press release on EU financial support to customs reforms
World Bank Trade Facilitation Support Program