WTO’s trade facilitation efforts falling flat
The World Trade Organization has failed to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) by the approved July 31 deadline.
Final agreement on a protocol to implement the TFA was blocked by objections from India and several other developing countries.
The TFA was part of a package of agreements approved at the WTO’s meeting seven months ago in Bali, Indonesia. The agreement, focused on trade facilitation, was expected to reduce trade costs, especially for developing countries.
“The United States is fully committed to the multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO. But the WTO system relies on its members to implement the commitments to which they have agreed,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in a statement.
Pro-trade groups called the failure to implement the TFA a major setback.
“This is incredibly disappointing, a huge blow to prospects for continued global recovery, most notably in the least-developed countries,” said Rob Mulligan, senior vice president for policy and government affairs at the U.S. Council for International Business. “Implementing the TFA could have significantly boosted economic growth by adding $1 trillion to the global economy, and creating as many as 21 million jobs, 18 million of those in developing countries.”
“Today’s developments suggest that there is little hope for truly global trade talks to take place. Businesses are multilateralists at heart, but they’re also pragmatic and will look to talks among smaller groups to achieve what now appears to be impossible among the entire membership of the World Trade Organization,” added Jake Colvin, vice president for global trade issues at the National Foreign Trade Council.
Froman noted, “Geneva will be quiet for the next several weeks. This is a good time for all of us to reflect on these developments and to consider the implications going forward. We will consult with our trading partners on potential paths forward.”
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