By MS Bah,
Law makers on Monday 13th, March 2017 ratified a protocol amending the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This motion was tabled before Law makers by Amadou sanneh Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA) on behalf of the Minister of Trade and Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE) and it was seconded by Hon. Lamin Jadama member for Niamina West.
This motion was supported by all the other members of parliament, during the first National Assembly ordinary session in the year 2017. The Gambia is said to be among 110 countries to ratify this agreement. In tabling the WTO protocol, Minister Sanneh noted that the WTO established a trade facilitation facility to provide technical assistance to developing and least developed member countries to support the implementation of the agreement.
Minister Sanneh also noted that the trade facilitation agreement will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO members have domestically ratified the protocol of the amendment and notified the WTO of their acceptance of the Protocol. “The MoTIE conducted a trade facilitation needs assessment in September 2013 and the National Trade Facilitation Committee has completed the categorization of Gambia’s commitment into categories A, B, C and this was reviewed and finalized in March 2015” He disclosed.
After nearly 10 years of talks, WTO members concluded negotiations of the WTO, trade facilitation agreement (TFS) at the ninth WTO ministerial conference held in Bali, Indonesia, from 3 to 7 December 2013, as part of the wider “Bali Package”. The Ministerial decision adopting the trade facilitation agreement in Bali also mandated the adoption of the protocol of amendment (Protocol) to incorporate the trade facilitation agreement into Annex 1A of the WTO agreement.
The WTO general council adopted the protocol of amendment on 27th November 2014 and has invited WTO members to ratify this protocol.
The Minister noted that the objective of the agreement is to boost global trade by expediting the movement, release clearance of goods. He added that the WTO also contains provision of faster and more efficient customs procedures through effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade and transport facilitation as well as on customs compliance issues.