Jamaica Customs committed to WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Customs House Weekly

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) has demonstrated its full commitment to the continued implementation of the provisions of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in its entirety, by formally incorporating these provisions in the agency's three-year (2018-2021) strategic plan.

The TFA was entered into force on February 22, 2017 and represents the first multilateral agreement in the 21-year history of the WTO, and marks a new phase of trade facilitation reforms globally.

It contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for cooperation between Customs and other authorities on trade facilitation, compliance issues, technical assistance and capacity building.


The process towards full implementation of the TFA is already underway, and is supported by the National Trade Facilitation Task Force, as stipulated by the Agreement. Category A notifications became immediately binding, upon entry into force of the TFA, and should not present significant challenges for Jamaica, as these provisions are largely being practised.

Jamaica is positioned to increase its capacity in a number of key areas that will enhance trade facilitation and allow for greater efficiency in its Customs operations. Through commitments by developed countries and donor institutions, Jamaica should be able to fulfil its TFA obligations, and has notified its categories B and C commitments as capacities allow.


The agreement sets out a broad series of trade facilitation reforms, comprising 12 core provisions which should be immediately implemented by all developed country members upon its entry into force. The TFA prescribes measures to improve transparency and predictability of international trade, creating a less discriminatory business environment.

Its provisions include improvements to the availability and publication of information about cross-border procedures and practices, improved appeal rights for traders, reduced fees and formalities connected with the import and export of goods, faster clearance procedures and enhanced conditions for freedom of transit for goods.

The TFA is a significant multilateral agreement for developing and Less Developed Countries (LDCs), in that it provides these members with the ability to establish their own implementation timetables for the agreement, based on their capacities to do so.

For the first time in the history of the WTO, the requirement for implementation of an agreement was directly linked to the capacity of the particular member state.

The TFA provides support for developing and LDC members in building their capacities, which is entrenched in the agreement. The Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) was created at the request of these members to guarantee that the assistance needed to fully implement the TFA is received and that each member is fully capable of exploiting the agreement's full benefits.


*Category A

Under the TFA, developing and LDC members are to notify the WTO of which provisions they will implement upon entry into force. Such provisions do not have a transition period, and are called Category A notifications. Category A notifications are determined based on self-designation, and become binding on members upon the agreement's entry into force.

*Category B

Category B notifications are those provisions that will be implemented after a transitional period has passed, following the agreement's entry into force. The principle of self-select is used to determine the implementation date for Category B provisions which would then become binding upon the member. These are typically provisions which the member only requires time to be able to implement.

*Category C

Category C notifications are those provisions that will be implemented upon the acquisition of capacity through technical and financial assistance, and will require a transitional period following the agreement's entry into force.




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