Parliament ratifies Trade Facilitation Agreement

Kathmandu, January 15

The Parliament ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on Friday. The TFA was signed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) member states in 2013 during the Bali ministerial meet and 106 out of the 164 member countries of the WTO had ratified the agreement before Nepal.

The TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other concerned authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.

The agreement will come into force after two-thirds of the members provide ratification. After the agreement comes into force, it will pave the way for technical assistance and capacity building support for least developed countries (LDCs) like Nepal from the developed nations and multilateral banks, according to Ravi Shankar Sainju, spokesperson of Ministry of Commerce.

The TFA also has provisions to improve transparency, increase possibilities to integrate small and medium industries in the global value chain, and reduce the scope of ‘red tape’ that still exists while moving goods across borders and which poses a particular burden on small and medium-sized enterprises.

TFA also contains special and differential treatment (SDT) provisions that allow developing and LDC members to determine when they will implement individual provisions of the agreement and to identify provisions that they will only be able to implement upon the receipt of technical assistance and support for capacity building.

There are three categories of technical measures for capacity and trade competitiveness enhancement.

The first is what the LDCs and developing countries can implement immediately to facilitate trade.

Likewise, second contains measures they can implement but require a certain span of time to implement and the third category is the area for which the LDCs and developing nations require support from development partners to implement the measures.

To benefit from SDT, a member must categorise each provision of the agreement and notify other WTO members of these categorisations in accordance with specific timelines outlined in the pact.