If trade is the engine of Sri Lanka’s new economic growth model, then trade facilitation is the essential lubricant to make that engine run smoother and better in order to speed up. The world marked an important milestone in this regard just last month, with the entering into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) after two-thirds of WTO member countries officially accepted – or ratified – the agreement.
The TFA is now binding on all members, including Sri Lanka. Much has been said about the TFA being a ‘soft agreement’ unlike the typical tariff related agreements of the past. But there is little doubt that implementing trade facilitation (TF) reforms can be a game-changer for trade. The TFA will improve trade efficiency worldwide, encouraging economic growth by cutting red tape at borders, increasing transparency, and taking advantage of new technologies. Ahead of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce’s seminar (3rd April) on how businesses can gain from the TFA, and hearing first hand from the Director General of Commerce and of Customs, this article recaps the key reasons why this agreement matters for business and what next steps are needed.