At the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation on Jan. 31, World Trade Organization members unanimously elected Philippine Ambassador Esteban B. Conejos, Jr., as chairman.
The WTO called this is the “first important step” toward implementing the Declaration on Trade Facilitation, which was adopted at the Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, on Dec. 3-6.
“There is no time to waste,” Conejos said, calling on WTO members to work collectively.
The role of the committee is to ensure the entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, prepare for its efficient use and implementation, conduct its legal review, and receive notifications of members’ commitments. It will also officially amend the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO by inserting the new Trade Facilitation Agreement in Annex 1A.
The new agreement contains provisions for faster and more efficient customs procedures through effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It also contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.