Joint Statement by Multilateral Institutions on Trade Facilitation Assistance

News Release | 13 October 2013

Heads of seven institutions - the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank Group - issued the following joint statement on trade facilitation assistance today at the World Bank/IMF Annual Meeting

WASHINGTON – The Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia on 3-6 December 2013 offers an opportunity to conclude a WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement that will deliver tangible economic benefits for developing and least-developed countries. We urge WTO members to seize this opportunity.

At our meetings here in Washington we had the opportunity to discuss preparations for the Bali ministerial meeting. We are encouraged by the renewed engagement by WTO members on trade facilitation and other issues of interest to developing countries, including least-developed countries.

We would like to reiterate our strong collective commitment to support trade facilitation. A growing body of research points to the positive development impact of trade facilitation.  Tackling inefficiency in clearing goods and shortening delays can reduce the cost of getting goods to market with positive effects on competitiveness and consumer welfare.

Our institutions are engaged in a broad range of trade-related infrastructure projects.  Since 2008, we have disbursed $22 billion in concessional support for economic infrastructure and building productive capacity in developing countries. With strong evidence that trade facilitation reforms help maximize the economic impact of our trade-related infrastructure assistance, our support to trade facilitation programs has more than doubled since 2008.

A WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement would add significant momentum to efforts to increase developing country competitiveness, and provide a multilateral framework to shape and guide trade facilitation efforts taking place at the regional and national level. In July 2013, together with more than 20 other organizations and governments, we stated our strong commitment to support developing countries, and in particular least-developed countries, in the full and effective implementation of a WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

We recognize that concerns persist in the negotiations about access to and coherence of assistance. We will work with the WTO and its members to help ensure that the new commitments that a trade facilitation agreement would bring are supported.  We will also work to ensure that our support for the implementation of commitments is coordinated with our support for complementary infrastructure development.

To implement a WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, we recognize we will need to discuss further how to ensure a coordinated and effective response to requests for support from developing countries, and in particular least-developed countries.