World Trade Organization (WTO) Members in Geneva have failed to meet the prescribed deadline of 31 July 2014 to adopt the necessary Protocol of Amendment to open for acceptance the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation.

This deadline was the first test of WTO Members’ commitment to implementing the outcomes of the Bali WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2013.

Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said: “We have failed because a small number of WTO Members sought to reopen and renegotiate the decisions all Members had agreed to in Bali.”

“Australia is deeply disappointed that it has not been possible to meet the deadline. This failure is a great blow to the confidence revived in Bali that the WTO can deliver negotiated outcomes.”

Mr Robb said it is difficult to see a way forward in the current circumstances on the other aspects of the Bali package and the Doha round.

“This is a lost opportunity. There are no winners from this outcome – least of all those in developing countries which would see the biggest gains,” he said.

For its part, Australia remains strongly committed to the WTO and its framework of rules.

Mr Robb however said the benefits from implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement are too important to be lost. 

“The future is not certain, but given there is such a groundswell in favour of moving forward on trade facilitation, I suspect many WTO Members may want to find ways to capture the benefits, even if it cannot be done on a multilateral basis,” he said.

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