WGPlus (Archive)

Would WTO tariffs really be such a ‘cliff edge’ for Brexit?

A global agreement to make it easier to trade across borders is about to enter into force following ratification by two-thirds of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership.  The first multilateral agreement successfully negotiated through the WTO will come into force immediately and will see WTO members benefit from greater trade by cutting burdensome red tape associated with goods exporting.

As a result of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), those countries that have ratified will be required to:

  • publish fees and charges online
  • introduce a ‘fast track’ for perishable goods – reducing the amount of food that rots while waiting to cross borders
  • allow pre-arrival processing of documentation
  • allow the use of copies of documents, rather than originals
  • allow for the right to appeal customs decisions

By helping to improve transparency, predictability & consistency, the TFA should lead to reduced trade costs and create the environment for SMEs to play a greater role in the international supply chain.

Studies suggest the agreement – which largely concerns the cost of clearing goods for import & export – will greatly reduce costs, time & the number of documents required for goods to cross borders. They also suggest the TFA could add over £70bn to the global economy, of which the UK is expected to benefit by up to £1bn (not including any future trade with the EU under WTO rules) and could reduce worldwide trade costs by between 12.5% & 17.5%.

EC Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: "Better border procedures and faster, smoother trade flows will revitalise global trade to the benefit of citizens and businesses in all parts of the world. Small companies, that have a hard time navigating daily bureaucracy and complicated rules, will be major winners."
Researched Links:

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