Despite a few last-minute hiccups, members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded talks this past weekend on the first multilateral trade deal since the WTO’s inception 18 years ago.
The Ninth Ministerial Conference held in Bali, Indonesia, was extended an extra day to work through issues raised by India and Cuba in order to reach a consensus, which is necessary to conclude a deal. Known as the Bali Package, the deal tackled a few development issues, but the agreement on trade facilitation is viewed as the biggest gain for all 159 members of the WTO.
“We are going to see another record year for U.S. dairy exports so news of this trade facilitation agreement is most welcome, especially when new barriers to trade are popping up left and right,” said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president. “Our exporters will benefit greatly with more uniform customs procedures at the border.”
A legally binding agreement, “the trade facilitation decision is a multilateral deal to simplify customs procedures by reducing costs and improving their speed and efficiency,” the statement issued by the WTO said.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman also issued a statement referencing the trade facilitation agreement. “Under this new agreement, a small business, including those in the United States, seeking to break into global markets and increase its export opportunities will be able to do so because it has faster, simpler and less costly access to 159 economies,” he said.
Although it could take up to two years to implement the Bali package, most view this deal as a revival of the WTO, which previously failed to conclude the Doha Development Agenda. In recent years, the efforts of the WTO have been eclipsed by high-profile plurilateral agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at email@example.com.