Trade Facilitation Beyond the Multilateral Trade Negotiations: Regional Practices, Customs Valuation and Other Emerging Issues
The 147 member governments of WTO agreed on 1 August 2004 to commence negotiations on trade facilitation. This decision followed a heated and protracted debate on trade facilitation among WTO member countries that started after the Singapore Ministerial Meeting in 1996 and contributed, together with three other so-called Singapore issues , to the failure of the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun in 2003. The 1 August 2004 decision of the WTO General Council, often referred to as the July Package , was seen as a significant breakthrough by many as well as a sign of the multilateral trading system s recognition of the importance of trade facilitation issues and its increased readiness to tackle non-tariff barriers. While some developing countries had initially objected to negotiations on trade facilitation, the Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation was ultimately found to be one of the most productive WTO negotiating groups, resulting in a significant number of joint proposals by developed countries and developing countries, and thus clearly making progress toward a consensus.
Published by ESCAP in cooperation with UNDP (ST/ESCAP/2466)