Hours of waiting, unacceptable custom fees, never ending formalities, lack of legal protection, vague domestic regulations are known to be main obstacles to international trade. With a view to tackling these problems, Member States of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) adopted a Protocol of Amendment to insert the Trade Facilitation Agreement into Annex 1A of the WTO Agreement on 27 November 2014.
The main purpose of the Trade Facilitation Agreement is to expedite movement, release and clearance of goods by means of harmonising import, export and transit rules of each and every member state. The agreement aims at simplifying border formalities as well as reducing fees/charges for customs processing. In fact, according to WTO, this Agreement could reduce trade costs up to 15 percent. The importance of transparency is highlighted on many occasions, especially in cases of inspections by competent authorities and detention of goods at the borders. Member States will also be obliged to provide for appeal against administrative decisions at all times. A further appeal mechanism is set forth as a harness in cases of undue delays or lapse of set periods in appeal procedures. It should also be noted that previous commitments such as impartiality and non-discrimination are safeguarded once more.
The decision of Turkish Council of Ministers to officially approve the Trade Facilitation Agreement has been published on the Official Gazette on 07.03.2016. Turkey is expected to notify the WTO in the near future. The Agreement will enter into force once two thirds of WTO Members complete ratification process. However, the efficacy of the new infrastructure will be achieved once the domestic implementation processes are finalised.
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