The first multilateral deal agreed at the World Trade Organization (WTO) came into force on 22 February 2017, a step billed as a milestone for the body facing unprecedented threats from a hostile US administration.

  1. The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has now been ratified by 112 of the WTO’s 164 members, crossing the two-thirds threshold needed for activation, the Geneva-based organisation confirmed. 
  2. Under the deal, nations agreed to simplify and standardise customs procedures at borders to make it easier for goods to flow around the world.
  3. TFA was estimated to trim global trade costs by more than 14% and could boost global growth by half a percentage point per year. 
  4. The trade facilitation agreement in the biggest reform of global trade this century.
  5. Poorer countries are expected to reap the most benefits from the TFA through provisions that will improve access to richer markets for their products. 
  6. The WTO has suffered high-profile setbacks in trying to craft major deals, notably in the stalled Doha Round process, which is striving to re-write global trading rules.
  7. When negotiations on the TFA were successfully concluded in 2013 it marked a major victory for the WTO.
  8. The protectionist agenda he hyped during the campaign has persisted since his inauguration, including through the nomination of Robert Lighthizer as US trade representative. 
  9. Washington could ignore WTO rules in order to redress what he considers trade imbalances, notably ones he claims favour China.