Less than one week after President Barack Obama concluded his visit to Argentina to deepen bilateral cooperation, governments of the Americas and business leaders are convening in Buenos Aires to advance a key component for global economic growth.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Government of Argentina are hosting a public-private sector dialogue focused on implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on Wednesday and Thursday. Stakeholders, including the Americas Business Dialogue (ABD), Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, and the Inter-American Network of Trade Single Windows, will pursue strategies to promote and implement best practices to reduce the costs and complexities in international trade.
“It is critical to the success of the Trade Facilitation Agreement that the public and private sector work together to find solutions and remove red tape at the border,” said Ann Beauchesne, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s senior vice president for National Security and Emergency Preparedness. “The TFA has potential to produce a boom for businesses of all sizes as it removes unnecessary barriers to trade, and if done right in the Americas, can produce a global standard for trade facilitation.”
Key features of the historic 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama are converging again less than a year later in Buenos Aires. As the leaders of the Americas met in Panama, 14 of them issued a statement committing to ratify the WTO TFA by the end of the year. To-date, 11 countries in the Americas have ratified the TFA, including Brazil, whose president signed the ratification instrument in a ceremony today. The director general of the WTO, Roberto Azevêdo, reminds us “the agreement must be ratified by two-thirds of the WTO’s membership. Seventy-two members, including Australia, China, the European Union, Japan and the U.S., have already ratified. We need about 40 more. Some members … are well on their way to ratification. … It’s time we saw through the commitments made in 2013.” The Americas are vital to that objective, and are likewise essential for its successful implementation.
The region’s leaders also met with CEOs of the Americas Business Dialogue for the first time at the summit in Panama. Business leaders offered a policy agenda for growth and economic opportunity to the region’s heads of state and government, encouraging governments to work with the private sector to advance pragmatic goals, including implementation of the WTO TFA.
The meeting in Buenos Aires represents a sustained commitment and the potential of cooperation between governments and stakeholders. As Jodi Hanson Bond, Chamber vice president for the Americas, notes: “The dialogue between the ABD and governments shows the progress we can make towards increasing economic development and opportunity in the Americas. When the public and private sectors work together, we find pragmatic solutions that enhance our regional competitiveness.”
The Chamber supports the work of the ABD, Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and the Inter-American Network of Trade Single Windows as they work with the IDB to press forward with implementation of the WTO TFA. With over three dozen senior government officials and company representatives meeting in Argentina, we are optimistic that the group will find a path forward for a commercially meaningful implementation of the TFA.