UNCTAD to assist WTO countries

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) has unveiled a platform to guide and support World Trade Organisation (WTO) member States in fast-tracking the ratification and acceptance of the Agreement on Trade Facilitation.

The Agreement on Trade Facilitation aimed to reduce red tape and improve the ease of cross-border trade in goods and services between the 161 WTO member countries; however, its implementation required the ratification of two-thirds of the signatory members — equating to 108 countries.

To date, only eight countries have done so since the agreement’s adoption in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013, Unctad Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said.

Unctad now aimed to assist poorer countries that had experienced domestic legal and capacity constraints in ratifying the agreement.

Unctad Deputy Secretary-General, Joakim Reiter, explained that ratification required, besides others, the verification of national legal requirements and procedures, including the identification of the constitutional requirements for approval of international agreements.

“Unctad stands ready to support developing and least-developed countries to strengthen their national capacities to implement and comply with the Agreement on Trade Facilitation.

“This support is part of a broader development strategy to facilitate trade, enhance customs collection and clearance, improve port management and promote domestic productive capacity,” Kituyi added.

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