Just a week shy of the commencement of the WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, St. Lucia and Grenada became the first states of the Eastern Caribbean Economic Union (ECCU) to ratify the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.
The TFA, which has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion per annum (according to the World Trade Report 2015), aims to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit and to provide measures for effective cooperation between customs authorities. It is the first WTO agreement to link implementation to countries’ capacity to implement. In November 2014, WTO members adopted a Protocol of Amendment to insert the TFA Agreement into Annex 1A of the WTO Agreement. Both countries have already notified their Category A commitments pursuant to the Agreement.
St. Lucia and Grenada also join Trinidad & Tobago, Belize and Guyana to make it a total of five CARICOM states which have ratified the Agreement so far. Late last month Guyana became the 53rd state to ratify.
For the TFA to enter into force, ratification by two-thirds of the WTO’s membership of 162 is required.This week Cote de Ivoire and Kenya also ratified the Agreement, becoming the fifth and sixth African countries to do so. This brings the number of ratifications to 57 states, which is more than half the number needed for the Agreement to enter into force.
The ratification by St. Lucia and Grenada are a welcomed development and it is hoped more CARICOM states will follow suit. My article on the benefits of the TFA for small island developing states can be accessed here.
Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. Please note that the views expressed in this article are solely hers. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.