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Central America Makes Headway on Trade Facilitation

By Federico Mazzella ,
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The COMIECO adopted a regional trade facilitation strategy and Panama ratified the WTO agreement on the subject.

Noteworthy progress has recently been made in the fields of trade facilitation and logistics in Central America.

First, the Council of Ministers for Central American Economic Integration (COMIECO) approved the Central American Trade Facilitation and Competitiveness Strategy (in Spanish), which emphasizes coordinated border management, drawn up by the authorities of the region with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and other international agencies.

This strategy is expected to help simplify trade procedures, reduce trade costs, improve tax revenue, enhance competitiveness, and modernize border infrastructure. Central American countries will develop national plans to implement the strategy.

Second, the COMIECO, the Sectoral Council of Transportation Ministers of Central America (COMITRAN), and the Council of Finance Ministers of Central America and the Dominican Republic (COSEFIN) agreed to promote this strategy, as well as to join efforts to draw up a Regional Policy Framework on Logistics and Mobility (in Spanish), to be coordinated by El Salvador.

Third, Panama became the 52nd member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). So far, the only parliament in Central America to have approved the agreement is that of Nicaragua.

The TFA will only enter into force once it has been ratified by 108 countries, that is, by two-thirds of the WTO membership. Its goals are to simplify customs procedures so as to reduce trade costs and times, enhance efficiency and transparency in operations, and reduce bureaucracy and the possibility of corruption. The TFA includes stipulations on goods in transit and provides for measures to support capacity building in those countries that lack the necessary technical and financial resources to fulfill their commitments.

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