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The EU and the WTO | Washington DC, 20 November 2014

EU supports implementation of Bali agreement

The European Commission, together with other donors, today will launch the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Support Programme to help developing countries modernise their border procedures and draw maximum benefit from the recent WTO Agreement on customs matters.

The European Commission today – together with other donors at the World Bank in Washington DC – will launch the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Support Programme (TFSP). The programme is to help developing countries reform and modernise their border procedures and draw maximum benefit from the WTO agreement on customs matters concluded at the 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali (Indonesia) in December 2013.

'The EU remains strongly committed to help integrate developing countries into the global trading system. Trade has a potential to boost their development prospects. I am convinced that the EU contribution to the Trade Facilitation Support Programme can be instrumental to this aim' EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said.

'Aid for Trade, including the modernisation of customs procedures, is a long-term focus for the EU's development policy. We are pleased to see the programme becoming operational today as a result of our unwavering involvement and support. This first step will take care of the most urgent needs, while we continue to work on additional support through, in particular, our regional cooperation programmes'', Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, added.

In some countries the customs clearance procedure may still take up to 30 days today. The modernisation of customs agreed in Bali implies introduction of electronic systems and better coordination between different authorities involved in customs procedures. As a result, companies should be able to complete all the necessary paperwork even before the shipment arrives at the harbour contacting just one single office. An effective implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement concluded last year in Bali will therefore shorten border delays and lower trade costs.

The EU initial contribution to the programme - €10 million – amounts to more than one third of current financial envelope, making the EU the biggest contributor. The EU will deliver it as part of €400 million objective over five years announced in Bali. The EU and its Member States are the main donors of Aid for Trade, with € 11.6 billion in 2012, the latest year for which data have been published.

The entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement remained locked for almost a year in a dispute among some WTO Member countries. During that time, the European Union, alongside the World Bank and other donor countries, pursued work to make the programme operational and ensure that the Bali commitment is not under threat. The break-through announced last week in the talks between India and US will allow the Programme to operate in optimal conditions.

30 developing countries have requested support in reforming their customs in line with the Trade Facilitation Agreement so far. The potential benefits of the Agreement are huge; the OECD estimates that 1% reduction of trade costs might add $ 40 billion to world income, of which 65% would accrue to developing countries.


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