Nigeria ratifies WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement


Nigeria on Friday in Davos, Switzerland, ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), making it the 107th WTO member to do so.

The country’s instrument of acceptance was submitted to the WTO by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, a statement from the ministry said.

Enelamah handed over the instrument at a meeting with the WTO Director-General, Roberto Azevêdo, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Only three more ratifications from member countries are needed to achieve the two-third threshold required to bring the treaty into force.

Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit, says the African Press Organisation .

The agreement sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.

It also contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area, and has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to one trillion dollars.

A 2015 study by WTO economists cited by APO states that full implementation of the TFA would reduce members’ trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent, with developing countries having the most to gain.

It would also reduce the time to import goods by over a day and a half, while also reducing time to export by almost two days, representing a reduction of 47 per cent and 91 per cent respectively over the current average.

Nigeria submitted its Category A notification to the WTO on Nov. 10, 2014, outlining which substantive provisions of the TFA it intends to implement when it takes effect.

Enelamah said that Nigeria’s ratification of the treaty was a reflection of its commitment to the WTO and a rules-based economy.

“It is evidence of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to rapidly implement his presidential initiative on the creation of an enabling environment for business.

“Nigeria would like to see a strengthened WTO that reflects the development principles of developing countries like Nigeria and we commend the effectiveness of director general Azevêdo in this regard,” he added.

Other African countries that have ratified the TFA are Botswana, Niger, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Zambia, Lesotho, Mali, Senegal, Swaziland, Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique.

“The TFA broke new ground for developing and least-developed countries in the way it will be implemented.

“For the first time in WTO history, the requirement to implement the agreement was directly linked to the capacity of the country to do so.

“In addition, the agreement states that assistance and support should be provided to help them achieve that capacity,’’ APO said.

It added that TFA was also created at the request of developing and least-developed country members to help ensure that they receive the assistance needed to reap its full benefits.

The Federal Government is expected to take the advantage of Nigeria’s membership of the World Trade Organisation to impact positively on nation’s economies through increase in the volume of trade and Foreign Direct Investment inflow.

It is also expected to the advantage of increased technical assistance and support from the multinational trading system and donor countries in the areas of capacity-building, infrastructure development, enhanced foreign exchange earnings, and market access for the countries’ exportable commodities through removal of technical and non-technical barriers to trade.