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The Doha development agenda, trade facilitation and its implications for Ethiopia : challenges and Opportunities


The Uruguay Round started in 1985 and led to the Marrakech Agreement in 1994, the achievement of which is the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Since its establishment, the WTO, has conducted some rounds of Ministerial Conferences, one of which is the 1996 Singapore Conference which identified the so called Singapore issues, i.e., Investment, Trade Facilitation, Competition Policy and Government Procurement. The Singapore Ministerial Conference instructed the WTO Goods Council to start exploratory and analytical work"on the simplification of trade procedures in order to assess the scope for WTO rules in this area". In the Fourth Ministerial Conference of November, 2001, representatives of 144 countries which make up the WTO discussed an agenda for future trade talks with development at its core and resulted in the launch of the DOHA Development Agenda. This conference sought a new balance between the needs of the developed and developing countries in the rule based multilateral trading system. This conference recognized the importance of trade facilitation; among other Singapore issues; to expedite the movement, transit, the release and clearance of goods in international trade; and declared its commitment to ensure adequate technical assistance and support for capacity building in this area. With world trade growth expanding more than twice as rapidly as world gross GDP over the past decade, the potential rewards from participating in world trade are considerable. Increased trade openness, through lower levels of protection both in developed and developing countries, has contributed to this outcome. Nevertheless, it is widely accepted that an open trade regime will only foster trade integration when a range of complementary policies are in place. One of the most important policies is trade facilitation measures which need to complement trade liberalization if countries are to increase their external competitiveness and become better integrated into the world economy.Ethiopia has been on track to open and liberalize its economy. The Breton Woods institutions have been closely following the liberalization measures the country has taken. The effort to modernize customs is still intact. The excellent moves by the Ministry of Revenue are highly encouraging. Nonetheless, there are a lot of issues to be dealt with to enhance trade, as trade facilitation doesn't at all mean Customs reform only. Trade facilitation is a non- trade barrier (NTB) agenda which can reduce the transaction cost of imports, exports as well as consumers and improve the investment environment and help boost FDI flow in the country. Ethiopia's application for accession has been accepted by the WTO, a working party has been established, what remains is the submission of the document on the country's trade regime and the lunch of the negotiation. During the negotiation, the negotiators will be encountered with the issues of trade facilitation. The implication of this negotiation is that it demands the simplification and harmonization of trade and trade related procedures which involve the activities, practices and formalities in collecting, presenting, communicating and processing data required for the movement of goods in international trade. The institutions involved in these procedures are customs and other trade border agencies including carriers. The objective of this paper is to show that trade facilitation is at the top of the agenda in current round negotiations at the WTO, the Breton Woods Institutions and the international business community; indicate the issues involved and to indicate the implications on Ethiopia; demonstrate that trade facilitation, i.e. the simplification, harmonization, automation and speeding up of the international flows of goods and trade information has the potential of bolstering economic growth; present the international trade chain in the Ethiopian context and show how it can contribute directly to promoting supply chain linkages and reducing non-tariff barriers to trade; suggest strategies of securing technical assistance and support in capacity building to all the cross border agencies that involve in a wide range of activities such as import and export licensing procedures, bank procedures, transport formalities; payments, insurance, standards, sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements, customs formalities and procedures and other financial requirements

Corporate Author: 
Getnet Alemu & []. & Ethiopian Economic Association/Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute
Ethiopian Economic Association (EEA)
Primary Descriptors: 

WTO; Trade facilitator

Secondary Descriptor: 

International business community

Geographic Descriptors: 
Cataloge Date: 
Broad Subject heading: 
International Trade
Call Number: 
330.963 PRO 2006
Serial Key Title: 
Proceedings of the Third International Conference on the Ethiopian Economy
Publication catagory: 
Content type: 
Publication date: 
2013-05-27 23:06:00
Forum or Discussion date: 
2013-02-27 15:02:01
Place of publication: 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Type of material: 
Current frequency: