A Trade Facilitation Agreement to Increase LDC Exports

Article excerpt

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Trade facilitation has important implications for a country's export competitiveness. The benefits of 'fluid borders' are particularly critical in today's environment in which increased global production sharing within value chains means that goods cross borders several times during the production process.

Competitive exporting requires efficient access to imported raw materials, intermediate goods and capital goods. For landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), the need for effective trade facilitation is even greater because inputs are also dependent on the efficiency of the transit mechanisms in neighbouring countries. Trade facilitation measures can be used to reduce costs linked to cross-border trade, and many of these are being addressed in multilateral negotiations on a Trade Facilitation Agreement under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

However, many developing countries, particularly least developed countries (LDCs), will need assistance to implement many of the measures and take advantage of the opportunity this Agreement would offer to grow their exports.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) already provides technical assistance to developing countries and their small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on trade facilitation on issues ranging from supply logistics and transit for landlocked countries to enabling SMEs to comply with border management requirements and generating awareness of WTO rules.

ITC has extensive experience working with the private sector, especially aiding SMEs in understanding WTO and other trade agreements and in taking the appropriate steps to benefit from new rules. ITC has also worked closely with government officials by facilitating dialogue with the private sector to assist governments in amending laws and regulations relating to trade agreements in order to ensure that new rules are implemented in a way which enhances business competitiveness.

ITC's non-tariff measure surveys (see article, pages 34-35) and feedback from exporters and trade support networks show that SMEs need better services to navigate at-the-border and behind-the-border barriers when moving their goods through regional and international supply chains. ITC has developed a full range of support services in mainstreaming inclusiveness and sustainability into trade promotion and export development by using trade facilitation measures to enable SMEs to connect with global value chains.

ITC's role in the implementation of transparency provisions

The Trade Facilitation Agreement includes commitments relating to the publication and transparency of trade regulations and customs procedures. …