WTO Chief Says Financial Institution Support Boosts Prospects for Trade Facilitation Deal
World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said Oct. 13 that pledges of support from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and four regional development banks have given a further boost to talks on trade facilitation following “a series of useful negotiating sessions in Geneva” as well as “encouraging messages” from leaders and officials attending a recent summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. The financial institutions vowed to work with the WTO and its members to ensure that developing countries, particularly least-developed nations, receive the assistance they need to meet the commitments they make in the trade facilitation talks. Azevêdo said this commitment “will greatly assist WTO members’ efforts to conclude an agreement, because these institutions have strong expertise in this field … [and] vast experience in developing trade infrastructure.”
According to a WTO press release, the trade facilitation reforms under consideration aim to make ports more efficient, cut red tape in customs procedures and other regulations, and upgrade information technology. The World Bank estimates that a trade facilitation agreement would primarily benefit developing countries and add billions of dollars to their exports.