Trade Facilitation in Regional Trade Agreements: Recent Trends in Asia and the Pacific (TIID Working Paper Series 2/11)

Working paper25 Mar 2011

Provisions in some of the most recent bilateral and regional trade agreements - that either have yet to enter into force or entered into force in or after 2009 - are compared with each other and with those included the WTO draft consolidated negotiating text on trade facilitation. The coverage of trade facilitation is found to have become very extensive, with the details of provisions in some agreements matching that in the draft WTO agreement on trade facilitation. Trade facilitation provisions and principles are increasingly seen to apply not only to Customs procedures but more generally, as reflected in the number of recent agreements featuring separate Trade Facilitation and/or Transparency chapters (or equivalent). The way trade facilitation measures and provisions are incorporated into the agreements vary greatly, ranging from dedicating entire chapters (or frameworks) to trade facilitation in some cases to including trade facilitation-related Articles in various chapters. All agreements commit to increasing transparency, including through an obligation to publish laws and regulations affecting trade. The importance of using international standards is also recognized in all agreements. Other trade facilitation measures that seem to be increasingly common include those on Automation/Use of ICT, Risk Management, Advance Ruling and Single Window. Transit facilitation issues are not generally specifically covered. The ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) and its detailed commitment to implement a Trade Facilitation Work Programme stands out as it provides a concrete and specific way forward to ensure that progress is made towards actual implementation of the many trade facilitation measures mentioned in it.