ICC, ITC, UNCTAD, WCO, WTO and FIATA were the ingredients of the recipe in FIATA's balanced debate at the WTO's headquarters in Geneva in the side lines of the Public Forum. Such a diverse panel of trade facilitation experts gathered to discuss the implementation strategy for the crucial WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The heavyweight panellists were none other than the well-known Donia Hammami, Milena Budimirovic and Nora Neufeld who highlighted the role of their respective organisations (ICC, WCO, WTO) in the complex implementation phase, precisely on the day when the EU Council announced throwing its own political heavyweight behind the agreement in Brussels. Jan Hoffman and Mohammad Saeed, respectively form UNCTAD and the International Trade Centre also contributed with rich figures and impactful statements which were received by a highly qualified audience.
Christian Doepgen from the International Transport Journal, the moderator of the session, animated the debate seamlessly through the rich contributions to highlight the need to improve the awareness of the TFA's crucial importance not only to private sector but also to governments. It was quite clear that trade is not only about goods, but it is more and more concerning services and the approach of governments on opening their home markets to exchange services such as logistics and transportation that will determine the ability of their citizens to engage in global trade in future.
As the dust settled, one thing became clear: the implementation of the WTO TFA is crucial, epochal work that requires participation at all levels of the public and private hand. Local industry particularly will need to connect with each government to assist in the ratification and implementation process.
The "hostess" of the event, FIATA, was ready to do its part. Francesco Parisi, the Immediate Past President of FIATA gave a powerful push to positively look at the future, when he said: "We must confidently look into the future of trade with inspiration and courage, I daresay with the objective of achieving a higher level of development, even if this may require, at times, leaving some of our comfortable habits behind. No change takes place if we are afraid of the future and of losing something of what we own today. But standing still is no option if we do not wish our precious trade lanes to wear out and wither."
Therefore governments are not on their own in the process so long as they allow logistic services' representatives to do their part in advising them on the best approach to implementing the agreement. When it comes to implementation and impact magnitude, one cannot overlook the benefits of engaging the private sector to source input on effective policy that can be effectively implemented at global level. Therefore FIATA highly encourage close collaboration between States and Industry to understand the need for policy and the appropriate measures for implementation.
"It has been a high level, cordial and civilised debate with many interesting ideas on the table to work together, FIATA is grateful to the WTO for the welcome opportunity they have offered", said Marco Sorgetti, the Director General of FIATA at the end of the reunion.
Note for the editors
FIATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, was founded in Vienna, Austria on May 31st 1926. It is a non-governmental organisation that today represents an industry covering approximately 40,000 forwarding and logistics firms, employing around 10 million people in 158 countries. FIATA has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (inter alia ECE, ESCAP, ESCWA, etc.), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) as well as many other UN related bodies, e.g. the World Bank. It is recognised as representing the freight forwarding industry by many other governmental organisations, governmental authorities, private international organisations in the field of transport and logistics, such as the European Commission (through CLECAT), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Union of Railways (UIC), the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), etc.
Marco Sorgetti, Director General of FIATA
Tel: + 41432116500
2 October 2015