The Philippines has successfully completed the ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and has deposited its Instrument of Acceptance to the World Trade Organization (WTO) through the Philippine Permanent Mission to the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland on 27 October 2016.

Adopted at the WTO’s 2013 Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, the TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods. It also includes measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. Provisions on technical assistance and capacity building are also included to help countries implement the Agreement.

The TFA is the first multilateral trade agreement to be concluded since the establishment of the WTO in 1995. Once it enters into force, the Agreement is expected to reduce total trade costs by more than 14 percent for low-income countries, more than 15 percent for lower-middle countries, and more than 13 percent for upper middle-income countries by streamlining the flow of trade across borders.

The commitments of developing and least-developed countries in the Agreement are linked directly to their capacity to implement the TFA. On 31 July 2014, the Philippines submitted its Category A notification to the WTO indicating which provisions of the TFA it intends to implement upon entry into force of the Agreement. As a developing country, the Philippines can choose which commitments to prioritize, and the implementation can be on a staggered basis.

“The Philippines finds great value on the implementation of the TFA – not just for the big businesses – but also for local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with the prospects of lowering trade costs and streamlining border procedures, which will enable them to participate more actively in international trade,” said Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez added that the TFA will also boost the country’s economic growth by supporting its integration into the global economy.

According to the World Trade Report released on 26 October 2015, implementation of the WTO TFA has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion per annum. The Report also found that developing countries will benefit significantly from the TFA, capturing more than half of the available gains.

The Philippines is the 95th WTO member to accept the TFA which will enter into force once two-thirds (110 out of 164 Members) of the WTO’s membership accepts the Agreement.