The Canadian Chamber of Commerce calls on governments around the world to urgently approve the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) announced at the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Bali last December. Member states have until July 31st to formally adopt the agreement’s legal text.
By committing countries to improve their customs procedures and facilitate the movement of goods across borders, the TFA could deliver up to one trillion dollars to the world and economy and generate as many as 21 million jobs. The majority of these benefits would go to developing countries, who would also receive financial and technical assistance to help fulfill their commitments under the agreement.
More importantly, the TFA—the first multilateral trade agreement in two decades—is an important milestone for the future of the WTO. The long-delayed Doha Round has already damaged the institution’s credibility as a platform for future trade liberalization.
Failure to adopt the TFA would jeopardize future progress on Doha and further undermine the WTO. National governments and business groups may have no choice but to focus their energies on preferential trade agreements, which risk creating a more fragmented global trading system.
Concerns expressed by some countries about other elements of the package agreed at Bali, including food security, are understandable. However, at a time when the global economic recovery remains fragile, the TFA—an increasingly rare example of international cooperation to boost trade flows—should not be held hostage.