RTA Exchange Dialogue: Facilitation 2.0 in Regional Trade Agreements

On 11-12 June 2018, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) organised a RTA Exchange policy dialogue on Facilitation 2.0 in Regional Trade Agreements: Enabling Trade in the Digital Age.

One year on from its entry into force, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), the only multilateral deal to have eluded the Doha Round deadlock, has allowed for sustained momentum on the trade policy reform agenda.

Facilitation 2.0 is by nature a multidimensional challenge, involving unilateral structural reform, coherent trade policies, and multiparty initiatives at different international fora, including the WTO and regional trade agreements (RTAs). Through the existing proposals on e-commerce, investment facilitation, services facilitation, and domestic regulations in services, WTO members have begun to address some of the trade topics related to Facilitation 2.0.

This dialogue focused on how RTAs have addressed some of the elements of Facilitation 2.0. This allowed participating negotiators and policymakers to identify best practices and share experiences with the view to eventually embed coherence-building mechanisms into the fabric of future WTO based trade talks.

Session II, “Facilitation 2.0: What is it and Why is it Relevant?” reviewed the distinct modalities of Facilitation 2.0, considering for each the challenge, including the facilitation needs of business, particularly MSMEs, and the opportunity presented by new trade and investment facilitating rules. The session assessed the measures already in place to address challenges and harness opportunities, and will offer policy solutions to fill the gaps.

The key message of my presentation was that facilitation 2.0 for trade in goods can no longer focus only on streamlining border customs processes and bottlenecks. It needs to focus on the entire supply chain.

Please see the link to ICTSD website here.