The introduction of the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) new Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) will be a positive move for global trade, according to the European Commission.
Ratifications by Chad, Jordan, Oman and Rwanda were secured last week, meaning the deal reached the predetermined threshold of 110 WTO members required for its immediate entry into force. The agreement was originally signed in 2013, but has been awaiting sign-off from individual member countries before it could be officially implemented.
The aim of the deal is to simplify and clarify international import and export procedures, customs formalities and transit requirements, while making trade-related administration easier and less costly. It also seeks to enhance transparency, make it easier for smaller firms to participate in global value chains, and tackle corruption.
The EU has agreed to play a key role in implementing the TFA through its customs authorities and has committed €400 million to aid developing countries with carrying out the reforms needed to comply with the new rules.
Since the deal also aligns with European efforts to help small and medium-sized companies tap the full potential of global markets, the EU ratified the TFA in 2015 and has since been actively encouraging other WTO members to approve the deal without delay.
Commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmstrom said: "Better border procedures and faster, smoother trade flows will revitalize global trade to the benefit of citizens and businesses in all parts of the world. Small companies that have a hard time navigating daily bureaucracy and complicated rules will be major winners."
This view was echoed by Neven Mimica, commissioner for international cooperation and development, who said: "Trade is a key driver for sustainable development; the new agreement will help tapping the huge potential of trade."