The United Arab Emirates has concluded ratifying the Trade Facilitation Agreement and has notified the World Trade Organisation, WTO, of acceptance of the agreement, becoming the first Arab country to do so.
Sultan bin Saeed Al-Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said that the Trade Facilitation Agreement is one of the most important agreements within the WTO multilateral trading system. It was the result of the Bali Ministerial Conference of 2013 and was the first agreement to be added to the multilateral trading system after 18 years of establishing WTO. It is seen as a huge step in breaking the negation stalemate in the development negotiations round, which have been continuing since 2001, and a driver for the multilateral system going forward.
Al-Mansouri added that the agreement is in line with the UAE policy of facilitating cross-border trading through simplification of procedures at borders and administrative requirements, providing information and electronic procedures. This help save time, reduce costs and improve customs and logistics standards.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for 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 field.
Al Mansouri said that administrative and customs procedures have always been a challenge to businesses and the most affected by them were SMEs. When the Agreement enters into force, SMEs, which the UAE government is keen to support and promote, will benefit from unified standards and simplified procedures to boost their trade and investment activities.
Abdullah Al Saleh, Under-Secretary for Foreign Trade Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Economy, said that the agreement is expected to supplement the global economy by 1 trillion dollars as a result of facilitating trade and easing border, customs, and administrative procedures. He added that implementing the agreement will reduce the costs associated with international trade and will benefit developing countries.
The UAE has been one of the strong supporters of the agreement and helped in the negotiations through collaboration with GCC and Arab countries and other members of the WTO.
The Minster of Economy headed the National Technical Team for Trade Facilitation that studied and assessed the impact of this agreement on the UAE. The team included representatives from the Ministry of Economy, Federal Customs Authority, UAE Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and all relevant organisations concerned with facilitation of trade.