Remarks: Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Daniel Bischof at the TCTP Workshop on Implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore
For Immediate Release
REMARKS (as delivered)

 

Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Daniel Bischof
Opening Ceremony of the Third Country Training Program (TCTP) Workshop on Implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement
Singapore

October 21, 2019

Good morning! It is a pleasure to be here today as we launch this joint Singapore-United States workshop on Implementing the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

Let me start with a question. How many of you have ever had to navigate bureaucracy to obtain something routine – a driver’s license, a marriage license, or a passport?  First, you fill out a form online, then you take that form to the local government building where you pick a window.  You wait in line and when you finally have a chance to talk to someone, it turns out you were at the wrong window all along.  So you go to the correct window but then you learn you completed the wrong form, so you have to start the process all over again.

All of those steps are what we refer to in the United States as “red tape.” Red tape is the most significant obstacle to trade.  In the context of international trade, red tape is all of the border and behind-the-border procedures that make it difficult to expand into neighboring markets, let alone global markets.  Sometimes red tape prevents small businesses from trading altogether.

The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement aims to cut this red tape by expediting the movement of goods across borders. When fully implemented, the TFA will improve transparency, increase participation in global value chains, and reduce corruption at the border.

These reductions in time and costs can make the difference between a country exporting and linking up to a global supply chain, or being left out of world trade altogether.

The WTO estimates that implementing the trade facilitation agreement will reduce the cost of trade by an average of 14 percent. Developing countries and small and medium sized businesses have the most to gain.

The TFA eliminates or reduces inefficiencies at the border by lowering costs for importers, consumers, and exporters. More efficient border processes can even lead to increased foreign direct investment.

Improving trade flows benefits both exporting and importing countries and is a shared interest across every country represented in this room. According to WTO estimates, global export gains from full implementation of the TFA could range from $750 billion to more than $3.6 trillion dollars per year.

Over the next five days, you will have the opportunity to take a deep dive into TFA implementation and best practices.

You will work with private sector and government trade experts to learn exactly how the trade facilitation agreement works and how you can help your countries maximize benefits under the TFA.

Our goal for this workshop is that you all leave here with an improved understanding of the trade facilitation agreement.

We also want you to learn best practices from your fellow participants.  So that when you return home, you can focus on reducing the red tape to help your small businesses take full advantage of world trade.