TFA to ease cross-border business for SMEs: ITC

TFA to ease cross-border business for SMEs: ITC

The trade facilitation agreement will make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to do business across borders, a subsidiary organisation of the WTO has said while calling for its speedy implementation.

"The TFA will make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to do business across borders. Since SMEs account for the bulk of employment worldwide, lowering the cost of joining value chains should mean more and better jobs," International Trade Center (ITC) executive director Arancha Gonzalez said on WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement.

"It is therefore imperative that we swiftly move to implementation," Gonzalez said in a statement after the WTO decision in this regard in Geneva.

Ending months-long deadlock, the WTO yesterday approved a trade facilitation pact while agreeing to India's demand for continuing the peace clause till a permanent solution is found to the food stockpiling issue, crucial for continuing the food security scheme. ITC is a joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations.

ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the Millennium Development Goals.

Gonzalez said border inefficiencies are detrimental to countries' ability to participate in international trade.

The growing importance of multi-country value chains has made logistical efficiency critical to countries' ability to use international trade to drive economic growth and development, he noted.

"The TFA addresses these challenges directly, by seeking to reduce the time and costs of cross-border operations, and making customs procedures transparent and predictable," Gonzalez said.

He said ITC is already providing support to more than 40 developing countries to help them take full advantage of the agreement's ground-breaking provisions for implementation- related technical and financial assistance.

Specifically, ITC is helping countries categorise their future TFA obligations, and develop project proposals for the so-called 'Category C' provisions that they would be unable to implement without assistance from donors and development partners.

"ITC is also working on helping developing countries implement the provisions of the agreement. Finally ITC is also helping raise awareness of the TFA and its potential among public and private sector. WTO members can count on the full support of ITC to make this promise a reality," Gonzalez said.

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