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Hong Kong first to join WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

     The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced on December 10 (Geneva Time) that Hong Kong is the first of the 160 WTO Members to join the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

     The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, said, "The TFA is the first multilateral agreement concluded since the establishment of the WTO. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the multilateral trading system by being the first WTO Member to join this Agreement."

     The TFA sets out binding obligations for all WTO Members to improve and harmonise their import/export and customs procedures. The TFA will bring substantial benefits to the world economy by removing inefficiencies in the movement of goods. The WTO has estimated that the TFA may reduce worldwide barriers to global supply chains and red tape by half, and expand the world economy by about 4.5 per cent (about US$1 trillion).

     "The TFA will help reduce costs and improve efficiency in doing business under a more transparent and predictable trading environment. We look forward to the early implementation of the TFA, and hope other WTO Members will also notify the WTO of their acceptance of the Agreement very soon," Mr So added.

     During the WTO General Council meeting held on December 10 (Geneva Time), both the Director-General of the WTO, Mr Roberto Azevedo, and the Chairman of the General Council, Mr Jonathan T Fried, commended Hong Kong for its early acceptance of the TFA. "This is a very positive step and I congratulate Hong Kong for moving so quickly. I hope that other Members will gain inspiration from this and will soon be able to follow Hong Kong's lead," said Mr Roberto Azevedo.

     WTO Members concluded negotiations on the TFA at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference held in December 2013 and the Agreement was recently opened for acceptance. The TFA will come into force upon acceptance by two thirds of the WTO Members.

Ends/Thursday, December 11, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:43


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