Jamaica has become the 67th member country of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on January 19th this year. Jamaica is the sixth country of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to have ratified the TFA. The other CARICOM countries which have already ratified are Trinidad & Tobago, Belize, Guyana, St. Lucia and Grenada.
The TFA was concluded at the Bali Ministerial in 2013 and seeks to cut the red tape and reduce the transaction costs and delays in the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders through the harmonisation, simplification and acceleration of customs procedures. The TFA, which the WTO predicts to increase global merchandise exports by up to 1 trillion by per year, will come into force once two-thirds of the WTO’s membership ratifies the Agreement. Earlier this month Seychelles became the 66th WTO member to ratify, while Mali this week became the 68th member and 10th African country to do so, bringing the total number of ratifications to 68.
The announcement of Jamaica’s ratification comes on the heels of the WTO Director General, Roberto Azevedo’s official visit to Jamaica this week. Jamaica is currently the chair of the CARICOM Group in the WTO and has been very active in the WTO negotiations. In his speech at the University of the West Indies’ Mona Campus in Jamaica, Director General Azevedo lauded Jamaica’s leadership and participation in the multilateral trade process from as early as the days of GATT, particularly in light of the country’s relatively small size. The Director General will also be visiting other CARICOM countries.
The ratification by Jamaica is 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.
The full text of the Director General’s speech in Jamaica may 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. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.