The World Trade Organisation WTO has said that a full sand strict implementation of its Trade Facilitation Agreement TFA could grow the global Gross Domestic Product GDP by $1 trillion annually.

The global trade regulatory body also estimates that implementing the trade reforms contained in the agreement is capable of creating 21 million new jobs across the globe annually, which underscores the need for countries to come up with trade facilitation reforms.

Speaking at the just concluded third conference of the Association of African Maritime Administrations AAMA, which held in Abuja, CEO, Maersk Group Worldwide, Seren Skou said the group jointed the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, which is an offshoot of the WTO agreement with the aim of accelerating trade facilitation.

He spoke on the topic: Maritime Trade Facilitation and Economic Development in Africa.

The conference was hosted by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, in conjunction with the International Maritime Organisation IMO.

“In December 2015, the Maersk Group joined the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation with the aim of accelerating trade facilitation. The objective of the Global Alliance for Trade is to accelerate trade facilitation reforms by supporting swift and wide implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement TFA”.

“When fully implemented, the TFA will represent an important step towards minimising supply chain barriers and reinvigorating global trade, contributing to private sector development, investments, market integration, education and employment”, Skou said.

While trying to explain its meaning, Skou cited the United National Centre for Electronic Business and Trade Facilitation UN/CEFACT, statement which defines trade facilitation as: ‘The simplification, standardisation and harmonisation of procedures and associated information flows required to move goods from seller to buyer and to make payment’.

He observed that though the Customs plays a central role in the trade chain, in order to achieve trade facilitation, all agencies at the borders must be involved.

He insists that trade facilitation is a concept directed towards reducing the complexity and cost of the trade transaction process and ensuring that all these activities take place in an efficient, transparent and predictable manner.

However, using the UN/CEFACT definition, he identified four trade facilitation principles, which include transparency, which advocates that countries should ensure that all information, requirements and processes for crossing borders are clear specific and easily accessible for all involved and simplification of administrative and commercial formalities, procedures and documentations by reducing bureaucracy.

Other principles include that countries should take advantage of the international standards on data, documents and procedures, as well as use of ICT to exchange information efficiently and Harmonisation of applicable laws and regulations, for instance within a customs union, which is another step towards trade facilitation through regional integration.