While news and social media seem to be pointing toward a rise of economic nationalism, global trade integration continues to progress through implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO). TFA addresses many mundane aspects of trade, like import procedures, documentation requirements, payment methods, and standards and will drive transparency about these among member countries. WTO hope TFA will drive down costs for member countries by 14.3% and benefit exporters by $1T annually. TFA is supported by a public-private partnership and can be measured through the Global Enabling Trade Report (see Reference Desk).
TFA’s implementation signals the underlying importance of global trade despite the emergence of nationalist voices in politics. It also focuses on smaller, operational issues that can impede local operations or be exploited by corrupt actors. Local compliance and operations should look for ways to find incremental benefits and reduce compliance risk as TFA goes into implementation.