Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb today welcomed the decision reached by World Trade Organisation (WTO) Members overnight to take forward implementation of the Agreement on Trade Facilitation.

This paves the way for negotiations to commence on a future WTO work program, which will be a key stepping stone to concluding the Doha Round.

“This is a most significant breakthrough. The Agreement on Trade Facilitation is the first new WTO Agreement to be adopted since the organisation was established almost 20 years ago,” Mr Robb said.

“This is a tremendous outcome for Australian businesses and exporters, and for traders the world over, who will benefit from improved customs procedures and certainty in conducting their operations. The OECD estimates that the Agreement will reduce trade costs for WTO Members by between 11 and 15 per cent.”

“Developing nations stand to receive the biggest gains with more than 21 million jobs expected to be created worldwide as a result of the implementation.”

“This is a very important achievement for the WTO.  I would like to personally thank the WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo for his commitment and perseverance in engaging with WTO Members to reach this milestone. Australia looks forward to working with other WTO Members to get the rest of the WTO negotiations back on track, which will be vital to unlocking new opportunities in global trade,” Mr Robb said.

The decision of the WTO General Council and its 160 Members on 27 November builds on an agreement reached between the United States and India two weeks ago, just prior to the G20 Leaders meeting in Brisbane.

For the Agreement on Trade Facilitation to enter into force, many WTO Members including Australia, will need to obtain domestic approval of the Agreement. The Australian Government has commenced this process and would be looking to formally accept the Agreement and notify the WTO in the first half of 2015. The Agreement will formally enter into force after it has been accepted by two thirds of WTO Members.

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