The World Trade Organization (WTO) has announced that its groundbreaking new Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has officially entered into force.
With the receipt of instrument of acceptance submissions from Rwanda, Oman, Chad and Jordan, the total number of ratifications from WTO members passed the required threshold of 110. Acceptance of the agreement was needed from two-thirds of the WTO's 164 members to bring the TFA into effect.
This represents the first multilateral deal concluded in the 21-year history of the WTO, with the deal designed to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders, while laying the foundation for further trade facilitation reforms all over the world.
Members' trade costs are set to fall by an average of 14.3 per cent as a consequence of the TFA. The time needed to import goods is also expected to fall by more than a day and a half, while for export goods this will be closer to two days. This represents a reduction of 47 per cent and 91 per cent respectively over the current average.
Once the TFA is fully implemented, developing countries are predicted to increase the number of new products exported by as much as 20 per cent, with least developed countries likely to see an increase of up to 35 per cent. On a global basis, trade is expected to be bolstered by up to $1 trillion (€942.85 billion) on an annual basis.
WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said: "The real work is just beginning. This is the biggest reform of global trade in a generation. It can make a big difference for growth and development around the world.
"Now, working together, we have the responsibility to implement the agreement to make those benefits a reality."