Countries / Territories

TFA Implementation

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    ITC’s role in the implementation of the measures of the trade facilitation agreement (TFA)

    The WTO trade facilitation agreement…and beyond

    In December 2013, WTO members concluded the negotiations of the Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) at the 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali. Upon entry into force, the TFA creates binding obligations for WTO members to improve their customs procedures by making them more transparent and efficient in cooperation with border regulatory agencies and private sector. The Agreement also contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building to support its implementation in developing and least developed countries.

    The developing and least developed members shall self-designate, on individual basis, each provision of the TFA into Category A (implementation upon entry into force), B (deferred implementation) or C (linked with acquisition of capacity through assistance and support) along with the proposed implementation date.

    Trade Facilitation, however, goes beyond the scope of the WTO TFA as it encompasses all other activities related to the optimisation of cross-border management and improvement of national supply chains. Such activities include, but are not limited to:

    • Developing logistics infrastructure,
    • Providing financing facilities to exporting businesses, 
    • Enhancing private sector ability to comply with cross-border requirements, 
    • Handling international commercial contracts,
    • Providing efficient logistics services to reinforce countries connectivity to global value chains.

    Seizing the opportunity of the trade facilitation agreement

    The WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has a key role to play in helping developing and least developed countries to reduce their trade costs linked to handling imports and exports. Many of the rules in the TFA are designed to be beneficial to businesses, especially SMEs. However, concerns remain in developing and least developed countries about whether they have the resources and expertise to implement many of these rules and procedures, for which they will need technical and financial assistance from the international community.

    Translating opportunities: How to use the TFA to increase exports

    The TFA includes commitments related to the publication and transparency of trade regulations and customs procedures. To assist least developed countries in meeting these commitments, ITC will provide trainings and assistance in creating user-friendly communication materials online and in print and educate SMEs about the new rules and their benefits.

    ITC already provides training for government officials on what information needs to be made available to the business community and on how to deal with technical and legal issues, such as confidential information. It will also facilitate dialogue between the public and private sectors, to provide SMEs with the opportunity to explain what information they need to facilitate exports and in what form.

    ITC also monitors the implementation of laws and related practices and procedures at the border through public-private committees, which would address appropriate remedial measures and would prepare targeted business guides on rules and procedures that affect importers and exporters in developing countries.

    Focus Areas

    Complying with TFA Short Term Requirements

    ITC supports countries in the categorization and notification of TFA provisions as well as in estimating the financial and technical resources required to implement their category C commitments. ITC will build on its NTM studies to provide insights on the key barriers to trade and the most relevant TFA measures to boost national exports. Finally, ITC will assist countries in reaching out to donors to support their national trade facilitation initiatives.

    Comply with TFA

    Immediate outputs of ITC’s intervention
    Compliance with short term requirements of TFA

    • Assistance to partner countries in categorization of TFA provisions (A,B,C) and notification to the WTO as per agreed timelines is provided
    • Partner countries’ ability to engage in the domestic ratification process for acceptance of protocol of amendments in a timely manner is enhanced
    • Implementation roadmap of the TFA and prioritization of TACB are completed
    • Financial and TACB requirements for category C provisions implementation are estimated
    • Bankable project plans to raise donor funds and mobilize technical assistance are completed
    • Regional harmonization of Trade Facilitation disciplines are enhanced

    Examples of interventions



    Awareness raising 


    Building National Capacities for TFA Implementation

    In order to help implement TFA, ITC builds capacities on a national level by:

    • Assisting countries in creating or reinforcing their national TF committees 
    • Facilitating public-private dialogue on TF and reform oriented policies
    • Raising awareness of private sector on TFA provisions and implications in order to lay the foundation for constructive national dialogue
    • Assisting countries in the publication of trade related regulations and procedures in a “National Trade Procedures Guide” as well as in making selected key information and forms available online through dedicated portals
    • Providing support to set-up and operationalize TF enquiry points. 
    build national 


    Implementing the Public-Private-Dialogue provisions of TFA
    • Businesses are the main targeted beneficiaries of the WTO agreement as trade facilitation initiatives aim to boost regional and international trade. This is why the ITC Trade Facilitation program relies on public-private dialogue to ensure business inputs are incorporated at policy levels and that reforms have a positive impact on private operators’ competitiveness. ITC’s role is to bring stakeholders from the private and public sectors together to provide concrete trade facilitation solutions that address the problems businesses face.
    • National TF committee is set-up and operationalized (in accordance with Art. 23.2 of the TFA)
    • Private sector involvement in TF committee and national consultation process is defined,
    • Training module for private sector capacity building are developed and disseminated and private operators' awareness on their country’s commitments and the TFA benefits is increased


    Ghana: Customs reform and modernization

    ITC facilitates Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to establish systems for the efficient crossing of borders aimed at increasing the competitiveness of traders, for example through the establishment of single window systems. ITC’s role has been to bring the private sector and public stakeholders to partner together into concrete cross-sectorial solutions in trade facilitation which are appropriate for the relevant countries. ITC has developed case studies to raise awareness on innovative and successful PPP schemes relating to trade facilitation, such as the Ghanaian custom reforms example.

    The Ghanaian Government decided to use a Public-Private partnership to modernize its customs operations. This meant the government did not have to solely support the project on its own, which included the total cost of US$ 12 million for physical infrastructure work, establishing communication networks, upgrading customs facilities, and placing electric generators in remote border stations. The partnership is based on a private share of 65% (60% contributed by SGS, a Swiss inspection company, 5% by Ecobank Ghana and a public share of 35% (20% from Ghana Customs, 10% from Ghana Shippers’ Council and 5% from Ghana Commercial Bank). The partnership relies on a custom’s management software that has been successfully used in other countries, such as Singapore.


    • Ghana has adapted a sealing system for transport containers as well as non-containerized trucks to ensure that trucks could undertake transit journeys without discharging cargo inside the country and no need to be monitored by customs officers throughout the journeys.
    • Ghana made the choice to authorize a selected set of transporters in exchange that operators provide some guarantees that agent participating in transit were well trained and following guidelines.
    • Policymakers have implemented a faster documentation system for transit documents issued at the start of transit journeys to be accepted by transport and customs authorities along transit corridors having a direct impact on quicker exits of transit consignments. The system was later completed by a satellite tracking of goods.
    • According to the IMF, collected customs tariff rate (collections cost as a percentage of imported value) has dropped from 7.9% to 2.4 % in 10 years lowering the transit cost for enterprises, which is one of the lowest rate in Africa.

    Supporting the implementation of TFA measures on the ground

    ITC prepares partner countries to implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and supports national initiatives to reform trade regulatory frameworks and to optimise trade agencies processes in line with the obligations ensuing from the TFA. By helping countries remove their supply chain barriers due to burdensome administrative requirements, ITC contributes to reduce cost and delays of cross-border operations and improve private sector competitiveness. After assisting countries in the preparation of the implementation (e.g. TFA provision categorization, TACB projects design…) they will be better prepared for the implementation of TFA provisions.

    As a first step towards implementation, ITC will develop in beneficiary countries a bankable project plan and an implementation roadmap for each of the TFA priority measure, for instance: Advance Ruling Systems, Authorized Economic Operators and Post Clearance Audit, National Enquiry Points, among others. Subsequently, ITC will assist countries to estimate the costs and resources required for implementation of prioritized TFA measures and to approach donors to raise funds to mobilize technical assistance.

    Additionally, ITC is developing a series of training modules for implementing the measures of the TFA as well as for approaching donors for support. These include, but are not limited to: ITC with national expertise will implement measures such as, but not limited to:

    • Set-up or strengthen national TF committees (Art. 23.2); 
    • Implement electronic payments facilities (Art.7.2); 
    • Set-up national framework for risk management (Art.7.4); 
    • Set-up post-clearance audit mechanisms (Art.7.5); 
    • Implement authorized operator schemes (Art.7.7); 
    • Support single window schemes (Art.10.4); 
    • Advance rulings (Art. 3). 

    ITC also provides support for the implementation of other measures included in the TFA (e.g. single window, freedom of transit) through partnerships with other international organisations such as UNCTAD and WCO.


    Example: Implementing the transparency measures of the TFA

    • A National Trade Procedure Guide is published
    • On-line publication of selected key information and forms is achieved (Art.1.2 of the TFA)
    • Online guide on the next generation trade intelligence portals is published (Art. 1 of the TFA)
    • One or several enquiry points are set-up or strengthened (Art.1.3 of the TFA)
    • Border agency officials and enquiry points agents are trained to ensure information update
    • Public information campaign on traders rights and on their responsibility to comply with regulatory requirements are organized


  • Trade facilitation business guide

    ITC published a guide on the Bali package.

    TF guide publication
  • TF Online Facility

    TF Online facility