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Liberia ratifies the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

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Liberia became a WTO member on July 14, 2016. On 14 December 2020, the country also deposited the instrument of ratification of the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention – RKC, a WCO legal instrument aimed at harmonising customs practices and procedures around the world, by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of customs administrations through a series of legal provisions detailing the application of modern and efficient customs procedures).

Liberia deposited today (29 April 2021) its instrument of ratification of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, becoming the 154th country to access to this multilateral agreement. The TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit and sets out measures for effective cooperation between Customs and other border authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.

The TFA entered into force on 22 February 2017 when the WTO obtained the two-thirds acceptance of the Agreement from its 164 Members. Section II of the TFA, which applies exclusively to Developing Countries (DC) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), allows such countries to determine the timelines within which the individual provisions contained in the text of the agreement will be implemented. To this end, DC and LDC are asked to classify such provisions in 3 categories to be notified to the WTO, namely:

  • Category A: provisions to be implemented already at the time that the TFA enters into force. LDCs, however, benefit from an extension of 1 year from the entry into force of TFA in their territory for implementing such kind of provisions (art. 15.2 TFA);
  • Category B: provisions that WTO member will implement after an additional transitional period following the entry into force of the TFA; and
  • Category C: provisions that WTO member will implement on a date after a transitional period following the entry into force of the TFA and requiring the acquisition of technical assistance and support for capacity building.

Liberia notified to the WTO the provisions classified under the categories A, B and C of the TFA on 23 July 2019. The areas for which the country asked technical assistance and support for capacity building include the development of Time Release Studies (TRS), of an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) program, of a comprehensive national single window platform allowing traders to lodge standardised information and documents necessary to fulfil all import, export and transit-related regulatory requirements, and the development of an electronic platform allowing the exchange or sharing of data information with Customs administrations of other countries within the framework of customs cooperation agreements concluded with them.

 

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