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Statement by Ambassador Dennis Shea at the WTO Trade Facilitation Committee
October 21, 2020

Supporting the Timely and Efficient Release of Global Goods Through Accelerated Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Communication from the United States, Brazil and Colombia (G/TFA/W/25)

Statement As Delivered by Ambassador Dennis Shea
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization

Geneva, October 20, 2020

Chair, the United States is requesting that all statements under this agenda item be on the record and included in the minutes.

The United States is pleased to take the floor this afternoon to present the Communication entitled, Supporting the Timely and Efficient Release of Global Goods Through Accelerated Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. We welcome Brazil, Colombia and Japan as co-sponsors and invite all Members to join this important effort.

We all know that the WTO is not the forum for providing the health solutions to COVID-19; however, it is the forum for providing the roadmap for countries to access goods and trade across borders. Cross-border trade is a critical channel for getting essential medical and health supplies and equipment to those who need them.

COVID-19 has changed the way we all live our lives and how trade flows. This year, different international organizations have put out multiple statements about Covid-19.  As we reviewed those communications in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, we kept asking ourselves, how can trade ministries help and what can we do?

For us, the answer was clear: stay the course. Staying the course means continuing to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement.  The TFA is already resulting in greater customs efficiency, more effective revenue collection, and better access for micro and small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to new export opportunities.  TFA measures continue to improve transparency in customs practices, reduce documentary requirements, and allow for processing of documents before goods arrive.

The WTO is not going to come up with the vaccine nor is it going to come up with test kits, but we have the Trade Facilitation Agreement and it can play a critical role in keeping those goods moving across borders.

This Communication is not asking any Member to take a new commitment. In essence, the Communication is asking each Member to self-reflect on its implementation of the TFA and its timelines for doing so, and to accelerate that process, where possible.  Moving a vaccine around the globe is going to be a monumental task.  What could be more important today than facilitating the movement of medicine, PPE, vaccines, and essentials?

For those developing and LDC Members who have been working hard to implement the TFA and believe they might require additional technical assistance and resources to accelerate implementation, we ask you to bring those concerns and requests to the Trade Facilitation Committee for the consideration of assistance providers. Your commitment to the TFA and interest in accelerating its implementation will surely demonstrate to the providers your willingness and readiness to do so.

As WTO Members, we are called to demonstrate leadership by committing to ensure the smooth and continuous trade in goods.

Now more than ever is the time to work together, and keep our foot on the gas to harness and capitalize on the benefits of the TFA through its accelerated implementation. We urge all Members to join this Communication as co-sponsors and commit to the accelerated implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.