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The EU and the WTO | Brussels, 5 October 2015

The EU ratifies WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

The EU today finalised the ratification process of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement – the first major multilateral deal in years, expected to significantly simplify and modernise customs procedures around the world.

The WTO Director-General, Roberto Azevêdo received today from Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade, and Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg - currently holding the EU Presidency - the document confirming the EU's binding commitment to the deal agreed by the WTO Members.

The ceremony today followed the approval of the agreement by the European Parliament and the EU Member States respectively on 9 September and 1 October 2015. It took place in connection with the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting in Istanbul. 

The EU now expects its WTO partners who have not yet done so to fulfil all the required procedural steps without delay, so that companies can experience the tangible benefits of the deal as soon as possible.

The trade facilitation talks started as part of the Doha Development Agenda. Considering the potential benefits of this agreement for all countries and, in particular, the developing ones, the WTO Members agreed in the end of 2013 to prioritise a stand-alone deal on customs matters.

The resulting agreement involves all members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is expected to simplify and modernise customs procedures in a way that will help small businesses access new export opportunities. It should also play a significant role in increasing developing countries' involvement in global value chains.

The EU had set a target of up to €400 million over five years to assist developing countries in bringing the agreement into effect. The European Union will help finance reforms and projects improving the customs systems of developing and least developed countries, as part of its "Aid for Trade" engagement.

More information on Trade Facilitation Agreement
On the WTO website
The Bali decision, 11 August 2014
Pictures from the meeting with WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo

More information on Doha Development Agenda
On the European Commission website
Blog of Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström
"The functioning of the multilateral trading system is hugely important. We must not miss the opportunity to bring the WTO talks back on track, and deliver on the Doha Round in December."