National Trade Facilitation Bodies

There is a range of examples of National advisory or consultative bodies to implement trade facilitation. Most are fairly similar and focus on providing an open forum for government and traders to identify and address regulatory and procedural bottlenecks in the trade process. The base document regarding the establishment of such bodies is UN/CEFACT Recommendation No. 4.

The most widely known bodies are the PRO-Committees (sometimes call National Trade Facilitation Bodies), FAL Committees, the National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committees (NTTFC) and the new WTO National Trade Facilitation Committees.
The UNCTAD Online Repository of National Trade Facilitation Bodies provides an overview of different national trade facilitation bodies in more than 100 countries. Below is a short summary of characteristics the most widespread trade facilitation bodies.

Overview of Different Trade Facilitation Bodies

FAL committees

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) based on their respective international conventions, the IMO FAL Convention and the ICAO Chicago Convention – Annex 9 (Facilitation), require governments to establish facilitation committees.
The objective of the national maritime transport facilitation committees, or FAL committees as recommended by the IMO FAL Convention, is to encourage the adoption and implementation of facilitation measures between government departments and other organizations as well as port authorities and ship-owners.
The National Air Transport Facilitation Committee, and Airport Facilitation Committees as required by Standard 8.19 of Annex 9 to the ICAO Chicago Convention coordinate and facilitate activities between departments, agencies, and other organizations of the State concerned with, or responsible for, various aspects of international civil aviation as well as with airport and aircraft operators.

PRO Committees

The FAL committees inspired the idea of the so-called PRO committees. The structure and tasks of PRO committees is outlined in the UNECE Recommendation No. 4. The PRO stands for "procedures" and exemplifies their focus. By the end of the 90's, PRO committees were established in more than 50 countries. They deal with facilitation of procedures across all modes of transport and identify bottlenecks to trade and promote solutions. In most countries the PRO committees were the main driver for the implementation of UN/EDIFACT. Ideally, PRO committees are independent organizations, often of a public legal nature, and usually receive direct and/or indirect funding from the public sector.

National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committees

National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committees (NTTFC) are supported by the UN Regional Commissions, UNCTAD and the World Bank as part of their technical assistance projects in more than 30 countries. An example is the NTTFC in Pakistan. They are similar to NTFBs except that they also cover transport issues. They act as consultative inter-institutional bodies to promote facilitation, study international trade and transport regulations, prepare recommendations and create transparency on major trade and transport issues. Their scope is broader than the scope of the PRO-committees and the UN/CEFACT Recommendation No. 4 was revised in 1999 to encompass NTTFC.

WTO National Trade Facilitation Committees

The National Trade Facilitation Committees (NTFCs) are established under Article 23.2 of the Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This provision requires WTO Members to set up or maintain a national committee on trade facilitation or designate an existing mechanism to facilitate both domestic coordination and implementation of the TFA. In this context, NTFCs are platforms where representatives from the public and private sector consult, inform, coordinate and engage in the implementation of the TFA. These bodies should be established or designated at latest at the entry into force of the TFA.

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