July 15 - A call by the director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to include trade facilitation in a new package of multilateral trade negotiations has won the backing of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) which says the move wou

In his statement to an informal Trade Negotiations Committee meeting on June 22, WTO director general Pascal Lamy described an "LDC (least developed countries) Plus" package that could include trade facilitation as well as certain other measures as part of the package of agreements that negotiators are seeking to conclude in time for a Ministerial Conference this December.

TIACA says that it strongly supports inclusion of trade facilitation in the December package. Modern, efficient customs procedures are critical for international airfreight shipments, and TIACA has long supported them, as they are essential if the air cargo sector is to capitalise on its inherent advantage of speed. Furthermore, trade facilitation can promote economic growth: aviation is a key facilitator of international trade, allowing small and medium-sized businesses to compete internationally.

Trade facilitation is also important to developing countries, since inefficient trade procedures lose revenue for governments as well as for importers and exporters. The negative impact of inefficient trade procedures 
further manifests itself by impeding competition and therefore undermining investment in developing economies, and by limiting the efficiencies of domestic producers.

Michael Steen (pictured below), TIACA chairman said: "We support the commitment of WTO members to conclude a package of agreements by this December, and are particularly pleased that director general Lamy has suggested that trade facilitation could be part of that package. We urge all negotiating parties to dedicate 
the necessary resources to make this happen. Of course, this would benefit air cargo - but, just as importantly, it would benefit member countries as well as the world economy at a time when the effects of the global downturn are still being felt."