PH ratifies WTO trade facilitation agreement

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THE Philippines said it has successfully completed its ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) adopted by the World Trade Organization at the Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia in 2013, and submitted its instrument of acceptance to the (WTO) on Friday.

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The TFA is the first multilateral trade agreement to be concluded since the establishment of the WTO in 1995.

Once it enters into force, the Agreement is expected to reduce total trade costs by more than 14 percent for low-income countries, more than 15 percent for lower-middle countries, and more than 13 percent for upper middle-income countries by streamlining the flow of trade across borders.

The Philippines deposited its instrument of acceptance through the country’s Permanent Mission to the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The Philippines finds great value on the implementation of the TFA – not just for big businesses – but also for local micro, small and medium enterprises [MSMEs], with the prospect of lowering trade costs and streamlining border procedures, which will enable them to participate more actively in international trade,” Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said in a statement.

The commitments made by developing and least-developed countries to the Agreement are linked directly to their capacity to implement the TFA. On July 31, 2014, the Philippines submitted its Category A notification to the WTO indicating which provisions of the TFA it intends to implement upon entry into force of the Agreement.

As a developing country, the Philippines can choose which commitments to put at the top of its priorities, with their implementation set on a staggered basis.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the TFA could boost the country’s economic growth by supporting its integration into the global economy.

Implementation of the WTO TFA has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion per annum, according to the World Trade Report released on Oct. 26, 2015.

The Report also found that developing countries will benefit significantly from the TFA, capturing more than half of the available gains.

The Philippines is the 95th WTO member to accept the TFA, which will be in force when two-thirds of the WTO membership (110 out of 164 members) accepts the Agreement.

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