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Dear all,

At the launch of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevedo, stated, “this is a very important moment for the WTO, and for the entire trade facilitation community”. The same is arguably even more true now, as the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) grows ever closer to entering into force.

Good progress has been made since Mr. Azevedo spoke those words. We’ve included you in this quarterly newsletter to give you a brief update on what we’ve been up to, and where we are heading.

Building the Alliance

The Alliance’s host organizations – the World Economic Forum, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) – have tightened our collaboration considerably since first teaming up together. With the governments of Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States – and benefitting from the expertise of GIZ as the German Government’s enterprise for international cooperation – we aim to leverage our shared networks and resources to support effective trade facilitation reforms measured by real-world business metrics.
The Alliance has grown considerably within the last year, building our global private sector network and benefitting from valuable contributions from companies such as Agility, A.P. Moller Maersk, Brambles, Cisco, DHL Express, Diageo, FedEx, Fiat Chrysler, UPS and Walmart. We are also working closely with the WTO and other international organizations, such as the ITC, UNCTAD, UNECE, WCO and the World Bank to see how we can coordinate and create synergy in our trade facilitation work.
We are pleased to announce that Philippe Isler will start as the Alliance Executive Director later this year. Philippe joins us from the private sector, most recently as Vice President for Business Development at SGS, a well-known inspection, verification, testing and certification company. Philippe brings with him a wealth of technical expertise in trade facilitation solutions, programmes and research, having driven SGS’ efforts in single window, e-government and trade community systems, among many other projects.

Trade Facilitation Agreement - Almost there

As of today, the TFA only needs 16 more ratifications to enter into force. In this final phase, the Alliance has been active in encouraging ratification efforts, both publicly and behind the scenes. Over the past year, we have directly engaged dozens of ministers and over 70 multinational corporations on TFA ratification and implementation.
We have also launched a global ratification information campaign – utilizing the ICC and AmCham networks in more than 130 countries – including a ‘ratification pack’ of tailored documents on the benefits of the TFA and creating awareness on the need to work with the private sector for effective reforms. We would be delighted for you to join this campaign and can share these materials, including a social media toolkit, with you. Several of the documents can already be found on our Alliance Resource Portal – an online tool bringing the most relevant trade facilitation issues and resources for business to one place.

On the ground, the Alliance has taken part in a great many public-private dialogues spanning almost every continent to gather input from a wide range of stakeholders, speak to leaders at the highest level, and forge consensus on how to steer reforms.

The Alliance on the ground

The most exciting recent development for the Alliance has been launching our in-country work in four pilot countries: Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Viet Nam. The Alliance’s bottom-up methodology means that local stakeholders share their experiences in public-private dialogues in order to identify potential projects able to measurably reduce the time and cost of cross-border trade.
The results so far have been very encouraging. In Colombia, for example, an Alliance-organised workshop in Bogota with the country’s major private sector associations and government representatives was the first of its kind. A follow-up meeting is slated for November 2016.
Two similar workshops were held in Viet Nam, in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, aimed at pinpointing specific areas where Alliance projects can bring value. In Ghana, the Alliance kick-started the scoping of pilot projects by building on the momentum created by an Alliance TFA ratification Forum. The Alliance’s work in Kenya got off to a promising start with a scoping mission off the back of the July 2016 UNCTAD conference in Nairobi and a further workshop series is currently taking place this week.

Trade facilitation metrics
The Alliance is an evidence-based endeavour driven by real-world business metrics, which feeds into and supports everything we do – from advocacy to our in-country work. Specific projects we’re developing include the sixth edition of the Global Enabling Trade Report, this time co-published by the World Economic Forum and the Alliance. The Report will be launched in November 2016 and will include the latest development of the Enabling Trade Index, covering approximately 130 economies and providing an overview of the Alliance’s metrics plans.

In-country, the Alliance is engaging local and international business stakeholders to develop total time and logistics cost studies to determine the direct and indirect costs of trade bottlenecks on supply chains.
The Alliance is also working on its signature metrics project, the Trade Facilitation Dashboard, which will bring all the Alliance data, third-party trade facilitation indicators and contextual information under one roof in an informative and impactful user experience. 
Get in touch
Moving forward, our calendar is rapidly filling up for the next two quarters. A running list of our past and upcoming events can be found on our website. Do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like more information on any of them or if you would like to attend.

We are also always looking to build further partnerships with companies, international organizations or business associations that are committed to trade facilitation. Do reach out to see how we could collaborate or if you have any feedback on our work – it is always appreciated.

Best regards,

The Alliance Secretariat