Implement the TFA to support the crisis response and prepare for future shocks

Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) can help countries become more resilient and contribute to COVID-19 recovery.

Lines of trucks, often hundreds of vehicles long, have become a frequent sight at many border crossings since the outbreak of the crisis. They are only some of the most visible reminders of the challenges currently faced by traders.

To get a better understanding of the import and export measures that countries have introduced, we partnered with the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility and the International Chamber of Commerce to carry out an online survey of business, government, and other groups. Respondents noted that all surveyed trade processes had become more cumbersome or time consuming, especially import/export controls – something particularly noted in developing countries.

On the other hand, one significant improvement has been observed – governments have made access to trade-related information easier. This only seems to have whetted traders’ appetite, and many are calling for even better availability of trade-related information. Improved coordination of border agencies was also frequently demanded by respondents.

How can we expedite the flow of goods across borders and better prepare for large-scale disruptions? Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) can help countries become more resilient and contribute to COVID-19 recovery.

Any measures that have made border processes more challenging should be removed while beneficial temporary measures must be kept. Digitalisation is an opportunity, with some countries implementing ad hoc digitalisation of border processes in the past months. There have also been indications that measures such as having a single window in place have helped some countries through the crisis.

Simplification, digitisation, and automation of trade-related processes will ensure that governments and businesses around the world will be better prepared for future shocks. The TFA provides tools that can help countries build resilience, particularly as trade facilitation measures can reduce the time and cost of trade, spark competitiveness, productivity, and inclusive growth. Implementing the Agreement must be a priority for countries around the world.

Read the report to find out more