The World Bank Group today launched a new program which will help developing countries reduce costs and improve speed and efficiency of trade at their borders by simplifying their customs procedures.
The Trade Facilitation Support Program, supported by Australia, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Norway and Switzerland, will make $30 million available in assistance for developing countries to help them devise and implement large scale reform programs, leading to increased trade, investments, and job opportunities.
Speaking in Sydney, ahead of the weekend’s G20 Trade Ministers’ meeting, Anabel Gonzalez, World Bank Group Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice Senior Director, said the new global program would focus on overcoming existing bottlenecks to trade, so providing predictability, simplicity, transparency and uniformity for traders.
“Our experience supporting trade facilitation and logistics reforms across the globe has shown that improved customs procedures can have a dramatic impact on a country’s economic and overall competitiveness,” Gonzalez said.
“The Trade Facilitation Support Program will provide very practical assistance to developing and least-developed countries to help them effectively implement reforms consistent with the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.”
Ahead of a meeting with Anabel Gonzalez, the Australian Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, reiterated Australia’s support for the World Bank Group Trade Facilitation Support Program, which demonstrates the ongoing commitment to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
“It is estimated that the implementation of this agreement could increase global GDP by $1 trillion per annum and create 21 million jobs, of which 18 million would be in developing countries” Minister Robb said.
“Making the movement of goods more efficient, transparent and uniform will help reduce the time and costs of trading – core themes of Australia’s G20 trade agenda.”
The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement was reached at the 9th WTO Ministerial Meeting held in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013. It is designed to streamline border procedures, increase transparency, reduce inefficiencies and improve national competitiveness.
The World Bank Group is a major provider of trade related technical assistance and financing throughout the developing world. The OECD estimates that significant trade facilitation reforms could cut trade costs by almost 14.5 percent for low income countries, 10 percent for high incomes countries and lead to the generation of millions of new jobs. In East Asia Pacific alone, it is expected that a 10 percent reduction in time to export will lead to a 4.1 percent increase in exports.