SASEC News

Compiled features on recent developments in regional cooperation and integration in the SASEC region.

Year:  

March 2017
Commentary: Boosting Trade Facilitation in Services

A fast-rising information technology-enabled services (ITES) is opening global opportunities for the millions of Indian college graduates that enter the workforce every year. In this article, Mr. Pritam Banergee, Senior Director for Corporate Public Policy (South Asia), Deutsche Post DHL, discusses the need for India’s government and businesses to focus on trade policy reform that ensure markets remain open for the ITES sector.


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Tags:  Authorised Economic OperatorsICTIndiaEmploymentJobsServicesSouth AsiaTariffsTechnologyTrade FacilitationTrade Facilitation AgreementTrade PolicyWTO
 

February 2017
India Files Proposal for Trade Deal on Services

India filed a draft Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on Services at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 23 February 2017. The proposal aims to increase transparency, reduce costs and facilitate cross-border flows of services. India is looking to push the proposal at the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December.


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Tags:  CustomsIndiaServicesTrade Facilitation AgreementTransparencyTransportWTO
 

February 2017
WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement Enters into Force

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement came into force after Rwanda, Oman, Chad, and Jordan submitted their instruments of acceptance to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. The submissions bring the total number of ratifications over the 110 required for activation. Members’ trade costs are forecast to lower by 14.3%, with developing countries having the most to gain.


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Tags:  BangladeshIndiaLDCMyanmarNepalSri LankaTrade Facilitation AgreementWTO
 

February 2017
Speech: Advancing Global Trade and the Role of the WTO

The outlook for trade growth has weakened and we are seeing an uncertain period in the global economy. In this speech delivered before the Confederation of Indian Industry, World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevêdo asserts that instead of raising barriers, the opening up of trade will ensure more opportunities for more people.


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Tags:  ConnectivityDevelopmentIndiaICTEmploymentServicesTrade Facilitation AgreementWTO
 

February 2017
Indian Business Leaders Look to Strengthen Trade to Drive Job Creation

Indian business leaders met with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevêdo to discuss the future of the global trading system. The roundtable meeting, hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce and attended by over 50 senior representatives from various sectors, focused on trade reforms to strengthen inclusive growth and other world trade developments.


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Tags:  IndiaEmploymentServicesTradeTrade FacilitationWTO
 

January 2017
Nepal Parliament Ratifies the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Nepal’s Parliament ratified the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on 13 January 2017, drawing up the instrument of acceptance for the WTO TFA, whose implementation will help expand trade and attract foreign direct investment in Nepal by increasing transparency and effectiveness of the trading process.


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Tags:  NepalTrade FacilitationExportsCustomsFDILDCWTO
 

January 2017
Nepal Customs Officers Undergo Training at NACEN

The National Academy of Customs, Excise and Narcotics (NACEN) held a capacity-building program for 35 Customs Officers from Nepal. The 5-day program discussed various Customs-related topics, including Customs valuation; World Trade Organization provisions; Customs reform; and use of risk management.


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Tags:  IndiaNepalTrade FacilitationCustomsFree Trade AgreementRisk ManagementWTO
 

December 2016
Commentary: Bangladesh Inching towards Paperless Trade

Bangladesh has adopted the mantra "Digital Bangladesh" in its push to reduce trade costs, by implementing paperless trade through an electronic system. The country has already launched an online trade portal; the Central Bank is successfully conducting electronic transactions; and the National Board of Revenue has also enhanced its paperless capacity. Asjadul Kibria, Bangladeshi economic journalist, provides the following commentary.


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Tags:  BangladeshCustomsSingle WindowTradeTrade FacilitationTrade Facilitation AgreementWTO
 

November 2016
Online Alert System for SPS/TBT Notifications Launched

EPing, an online alert system for updates on the latest information on regulatory requirements for international trade, was launched by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the World Trade Organization, and the International Trade Centre. The system enables access to WTO member notifications on TBT and SPS measures, and facilitates dialogue among the public and private sector in the early stages of potential trade issues.


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Tags:  Trade FacilitationTechnical Barriers to TradeSanitary and PhytosanitaryTradeWTOBangladeshBhutanIndiaMaldivesNepalSri Lanka
 

September 2016
India to Prioritize Working towards TFA for Services

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared the country’s desire to prioritize a trade facilitation agreement (TFA) for services, on 6 September at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, noting its potential to help professionals and business move from one country to another. Mr. Modi said that the service sector has huge potential and contributes significantly to the economy.


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Tags:  IndiaBRICSTrade FacilitationWTO
 

August 2016
Commentary: Trade Portal and Single Window Reduce Cost of Doing Business

The National Trade Portal and National Single Window are important components of the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA). This commentary by Ms. Ferdous Ara Begum, Chief Executive Officer, Business Initiative Leading Development of Bangladesh, discusses how these could improve trade, gives an update on Bangladesh's initiatives toward ratifying the WTO TFA, and recommends a region-wide Single Window for South Asia.


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Tags:  WTOTrade Facilitation AgreementASEANBangladeshSri LankaTrade Facilitation
 

June 2016
India Promotes Easier Visa Regime among WTO Members

India is working on a proposal to ease facilitation issues on trade in services including visa regimes among members of the World Trade Orgagnization (WTO). WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo welcomed India’s proposal for a trade facilitation agreement in services, and requested submission of a proposal to initiate discussions.


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Tags:  IndiaWTOTrade Facilitation
 

May 2016
Sri Lanka Ratifies the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Sri Lanka has ratified the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA), submitting its instrument of acceptance on 31 May 2016. Mr. R.D. Susiri Kumararatne, Ambassador to WTO, Sri Lanka, presented Sri Lanka's instrument to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. The TFA will maintain the country's competitiveness in global and naval trade.
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Tags:  Sri LankaTrade Facilitation AgreementWTO
 

April 2016
India Ratifies the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

The Government of India has ratified the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, submitting its instrument of acceptance on 22 April 2016. Ms. Anjali Prasad, Ambassador to WTO, India handed over the instrument to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. India is the 76th WTO member to accept the Agreement.
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Tags:  IndiaTrade FacilitationWTO
 

March 2016
Cabinet Secretary to Chair India's National Committee on Trade Facilitation

The Government of India is set to appoint its Cabinet Secretary as Head of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation, which will facilitate both domestic coordination and implementation of the provisions of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement. The terms of reference for the national committee will be drafted once suggestions from industry associations and border states have been received.
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Tags:  IndiaTrade FacilitationWTO
 

March 2016
WTO Developing, LDC Members Encouraged to Start Preparing for Entry into Force of the TFA

WTO members were advised to notify the WTO about their technical assistance and capacity-building needs, including the timeframe to ensure effective implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The WTO Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation has received 81 “Category A” notifications and an increasing number of “Category B”and “Category C” notifications.
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Tags:  WTOLDCTrade FacilitationSri Lanka
 

February 2016
India Commerce Minister Highlights Significance of WTO TFA Ratification

India's Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted the significance of the Cabinet's decision to ratify the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA), and affirmed the Government's initiatives to improve systems within India for trade facilitation. She also discussed necessary provisions that India should adopt to comply with the Agreement.
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Tags:  IndiaTrade FacilitationWTO
 

February 2016
Government of India Clears the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

The Proposal for Notification of Commitments under the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO), ratification and acceptance of the Instrument of Acceptance of Protocol of TFA to the WTO Secretariat and constitution of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation received approval from the Indian Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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Tags:  IndiaTrade Facilitation AgreementWTO
 

January 2016
Sri Lanka Prepares to Ratify the WTO TFA

Sri Lanka's Cabinet of Ministers has given its approval to ratify the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA), following a proposal made by Sri Lanka's Minister of Industries and Commerce, Mr. Rishad Bathiudeen. The TFA will maintain the country's competitiveness in global and naval trade.
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Tags:  Sri LankaWTOTrade Facilitation
 

December 2015
WTO Nairobi Package Delivers Commitments to LDCs

The World Trade Organization (WTO) 10th Ministerial Conference agreed on a series of trade initiatives and decisions to benefit its least developed country (LDC) members, including re-affirmation of public stockholding for food security purposes; preferential rules of origin which calls on preference-granting members to simplify documentary and procedural requirements related to origin; and 15-year extension of preferential treatment for LDCs in the area of services to increase LDC capacity.
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Tags:  WTOLDCTradeTrade Facilitation
 

November 2015
Bhutan's Accession to the WTO Discussed

Accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was discussed during a workshop on Bhutan's graduation from least developed country (LDC) status, held on 17-18 November 2015. The Workshop clarified how membership to the WTO will benefit Bhutan, including enjoying the benefits of a multilateral trading system with WTO member countries, and discussed wider implications of WTO membership.
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Tags:  BhutanWTOTrade FacilitationTrade
 

October 2015
World Trade Report 2015 Highlights Importance of Speedy, Extensive Implementation of the TFA

The latest World Trade Report launched on 26 October 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland is the first major study to comprehensively examine the benefits and challenges of implementing the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) since its adoption in 2014. It highlights how extensive and speedy implementation of the TFA will lead to bigger gains, particularly for developing countries and least developed countries.
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Tags:  WTOTrade Facilitation AgreementTrade
 

October 2015
WTO Receives 50th Ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement

The Republic of Macedonia became the 50th country to submit its ratification of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). This submission follows the ratification recently deposited by the EU on behalf of its 28 member states, which gave a huge boost toward efforts to bring the Agreement into force. The WTO reported a sharp rise in ratifications, with the number of acceptance instruments received tripling by June 2015.
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Tags:  WTOTrade FacilitationLDC
 

October 2015
WTO and UNCTAD Sign Declaration Increasing Cooperation

The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) signed a Joint Declaration that reaffirms their commitment to strengthen cooperation on promoting trade as a tool for development, and acknowledges trade as an important driver of development. It also reinforces the commitment of WTO and UNCTAD on bolstering cooperation in key areas of their work, including trade related technical assistance and capacity-building, and trade facilitation.
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Tags:  WTOUNCTADLDC
 

August 2015
Trade Restrictions on the Rise: WTO Report

Data from the World Trade Organization's (WTO) latest monitoring report reveal 104 new trade restrictions were adopted by WTO members from mid-October 2014 to mid-May 2015, an increase of 12% since the last reporting period. WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo said the organization should seek to make decisive progress in eliminating remaining trade-restrictive measures.
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Tags:  WTOTradeTrade Facilitation
 

July 2015
World Trade Organization’s Fifth Global Review of Aid for Trade

Heads of various international agencies agreed during the Fifth Global Review of Aid for Trade, held in Geneva, Switzerland on 30 June 2015 that reducing trade costs through initiatives such as World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement will help poor countries reap benefits of the global trading system. The Fifth Global Review examines actions taken to reduce trade costs so that developing countries and least-developed countries can participate more effectively in global trade.
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Tags:  Aid for TradeTrade Facilitation AgreementWTO
 

May 2015
WTO Launches Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility Website

The Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) – launched on 22 July 2014 and operational by 27 November 2014 – assists developing countries and least developed country members reap the full benefits of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement. Recently, the WTO launched a dedicated website for the TFAF for members, donors, and others seeking information on the new TFAF.
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Tags:  Trade Facilitation AgreementTrade Facilitation Agreement FacilityWTO
 

May 2015
WCO Secretary General and WTO Director General Attend ADB Forum

World Customs Organization (WCO) Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya and World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevêdo spoke at the Asian Development Bank Beyond Tariffs Forum in Manila on 21 May 2015. Director General Azevêdo outlined the origins of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation while Secretary General Mikuriya spoke about WCO’s collaborative approach with the WTO in TFA implementation.
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Tags:  WCOWTOTrade Facilitation
 

May 2015
China Contributes $500,000 to WTO Least Developed Countries

The Government of China pledged to contribute $500,000 to World Trade Organization (WTO) Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Accessions Program or the China Program. This will enable LDCs to better integrate into the global economy by strengthening their participation in WTO activities and helping members accede to the WTO.
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Tags:  WTOLDCTrade Facilitation
 

March 2015
WCO Holds First Regional Workshop on Trade Facilitation

The world's first regional workshop on the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA) was held in Jakarta, Indonesia from 16 to 18 March 2015. The three-day workshop discussed strategic initiatives that focused on three main agendas: (i) WTO TFA implementation; (ii) the World Customs Organization's Mercator Programme; and (iii) Customs cooperation among government age
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Tags:  WCOWTOTrade FacilitationADB
 

February 2015
Bangladesh Nominated as LDC Coordinator for WTO in 2015

Bangladesh has once again been nominated as least developed countries’ (LDC) coordinator for 2015—its first time was in 1996 when former Industries and Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed attended the WTO Ministerial Conference in Singapore. Bangladesh was nominated due to its vital role and experience in bargaining with the developed world on behalf of the LDCs.
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Tags:  BangladeshWTOLDC
 

January 2015
WTO Director General Highlights TFA Benefits at CII

As the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) reached its 120th year, the Partnership Summit – CII’s annual flagship event – gathered over 1,000 delegates to deliberate on global economic and trade scenarios, including enhancing developing countries’ ability to integrate into the world economy. WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo highlighted India’s contribution to the multilateral trading system and noted the benefits of ratifying the trade facilitation agreement to Indian industries.
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Tags:  WTOTrade Facilitation AgreementIndia
 

January 2015
Bangladesh: Future Middle-Income Country Status to Have No Effect on EU Trade Benefit

The Government of Bangladesh aims to graduate to middle-income country status by 2021. Once it reaches middle-income status, it will not enjoy duty-free benefit under GSP but move to the ‘GSP Plus’ scheme. Bangladesh will have to sign four international conventions on human rights, labor rights, environment, and governance to enjoy GSP Plus benefit from the EU.
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Tags:  BangladeshTradeWTO
 

November 2014
Plan of Action Adopted for LLDCs at Second UN Conference

The Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Countries on 3-5 November 2014 in Vienna adopted a Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries, which includes trade and trade facilitation as one of its six priorities. It recognizes the importance of implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, particularly provisions on technical assistance and capacity-building.
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Tags:  WTOTrade Facilitation AgreementLLDC
 

October 2014
Trade Facilitation Agreement Benefits Within Reach?

India remains concerned on finding a permanent solution on food stockholding, while preserving the integrity of the Bali package concluded at WTO’s 9th ministerial meeting. India is calling for progress on a parallel pact that allows it to subsidize and stockpile food grains than is currently allowed by WTO rules.
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Tags:  WTOIndiaTrade Facilitation Agreement
 

September 2014
11th Asia-Europe Finance Ministers’ Meeting

Finance Ministers and representatives from 49 Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Member Countries and the European Commission attended the ASEM Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Milan, Italy on 12 September 2014. The Ministers renewed their commitment to increased inter-regional investment and trade flows, protectionism resistance, and a successful conclusion to the World Trade Organization Doha Round.
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Tags:  Regional CooperationWTOTrade
 

July 2014
WTO Faces Setback on Implementation of Bali Trade Deal

The deadline for adoption of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement passed on 31 July without reaching a consensus. WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo reports "the remaining gaps are unbridgeable with the time that we have."
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Tags:  Trade PolicyTrade FacilitationWTO
 

July 2014
WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility Support LDCs and Developing Countries

A Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility was launched by the WTO on 22 July 2014, further ensuring that least developed countries and developing countries will receive necessary assistance in implementing the trade facilitation agreement.
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Tags:  WTOTrade FacilitationPoverty ReductionADBSASECTrade Facilitation AgreementLDCWCOUNESCAP
 

July 2014
Reducing Practical Barriers to Trade

The World Economic Forum's Global Enabling Trade Report: 2014 offers a tool to monitor progress on implementing measures for the Trade Facilitation Agreement. It provides insights on how countries in South Asia can significantly gain from the $1 trillion boost the Trade Facilitation Agreement is expected to bring to the global economy.
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Tags:  Trade FacilitationTrade PolicyPoverty ReductionBangladeshIndiaNepalSouth AsiaTrade Facilitation AgreementTradeWTO
 

June 2014
WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo Emphasizes Key Roles of Bangladesh and Nepal in Doha Development Agenda

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevêdo visited SASEC member countries Bangladesh on June 3, 2014 and Nepal on June 4-5, 2014, highlighting achievements of the recent Ninth WTO Ministerial Meeting held in Bali in December 2013, and discussing key trade issues.
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Tags:  Trade FacilitationWTOTrade Policy
 

January 2014
Bali Trade and Development Symposium

The Bali Trade and Development Symposium (TDS) which took place on the sidelines of the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference discussed governmental and non-governmental stakeholder issues on trade and sustainable development and addressed challenges facing the multilateral trade system. Panelists emphasized the uncertain role of WTO negotiations and highlighted the need to focus on food security and renewable energy.
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Tags:  Trade PolicyTrade FacilitationWTO