WTO ratifies first multilateral trade deal
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.
- 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.
- Under the deal, nations agreed to simplify and standardise customs procedures at borders to make it easier for goods to flow around the world.
- TFA was estimated to trim global trade costs by more than 14% and could boost global growth by half a percentage point per year.
- The trade facilitation agreement in the biggest reform of global trade this century.
- Poorer countries are expected to reap the most benefits from the TFA through provisions that will improve access to richer markets for their products.
- 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.
- When negotiations on the TFA were successfully concluded in 2013 it marked a major victory for the WTO.
- The protectionist agenda he hyped during the campaign has persisted since his inauguration, including through the nomination of Robert Lighthizer as US trade representative.
- Washington could ignore WTO rules in order to redress what he considers trade imbalances, notably ones he claims favour China.