A sustainable, long-term recovery in the global economy would result from an agreement among World Trade Organization (WTO) members on trade facilitation, according to the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG).
“Salvaging an agreement on trade facilitation from the Doha Round of negotiations would represent a major success for the WTO and its members and would have an enormously positive effect on the volume and flow of international trade and offer more opportunities for cost efficiencies,” said Michael Steen, chairman of GACAG. “A near-term conclusion of a WTO trade facilitation agreement would promote simplification of customs procedures globally, and could be an important impetus to global trade and economic recovery. GACAG urges the WTO Contracting Parties to conclude their negotiations, and take any necessary steps to finalize and implement the agreement—even if that means severing the trade facilitation agreement from the rest of the Doha Round.”
GACAG’s position is that, at a minimum, a WTO trade facilitation agreement should require customs authorities to provide online information about customs practices, including regulations and whenever possible to do so both in the national language(s) and in English. It also wants to see customs administrations provide binding advance rulings and independent, administrative reviews and appeals as part of more transparent, paperless and regularly modernized procedures.
Among its recommendations for customs reforms as part of a new trade facilitation agreement, GACAG wants customs authorities to promote greater integrity, including taking appropriate steps to protect the confidentiality of data. It says risk assessment should be the guiding principle in the evaluation of data and in enforcement actions and calls for a formal process to be established for consulting with the trading community on new rules and procedures.
In its position paper of WTO Trade Facilitation, the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group also wants to see post-release reconciliation and post-entry audits permitted, separate physical release of cargo from its fiscal release, the provision of a “single window” automation system applicable to all border agencies, and expedited release procedures for shipments that meet specified criteria, such as the provision in advance of relevant data in electronic format.
The Doha Round is the latest round of trade negotiations among the WTO membership. Its aim is to achieve major reform of the international trading system through the introduction of lower trade barriers and revised trade rules. The work program covers about 20 areas of trade. The Round is also known semi-officially as the Doha Development Agenda as a fundamental objective is to improve the trading prospects of developing countries.