Trade Facilitation

Canada’s Position in WTO Negotiations

The Doha Round WTO negotiations on trade facilitation stemmed from the need to clarify and improve existing WTO disciplines on freedom of transit, fees and formalities associated with border transactions, and transparency of trade regulations. These disciplines date back to the original formation of the GATT in 1947 and, in some cases, build on predecessor arrangements from the early years of the 20th century. Accordingly, and as part of the Doha Development Agenda, the Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation (NGTF) was tasked with the clarification and improvement of relevant aspects of current General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Articles V, VIII and X dealing with ‘Freedom of Transit’, ‘Fees and Formalities’ and ‘Publication and Administration of Trade Regulations’, with a view to further expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods (including goods in transit) and ensuring that rules reflect the realities and challenges faced by traders in the 21st century.


Canada’s priority for the negotiations is to secure strong and binding rules on trade facilitation which would lead to more transparent and streamlined procedures for border transactions. Canada views trade facilitation as a win-win for all countries and as a natural complement to market access negotiations on goods. New rules on trade facilitation would help countries modernize their border regimes to expedite the flow of both imports and exports across borders, while fully meeting non-trade objectives such as security. At the same time, new rules have the potential to reduce the costs of doing business by facilitating access to information regarding countries’ customs regulations and procedures while reducing “red-tape” at borders. Progress on these issues would especially benefit small and medium-sized companies, for whom such costs can be particularly burdensome.

Since agreement in July 2004 on the modalities for trade facilitation negotiations, Canada and other Trade Facilitation supporters have submitted over 35 textual proposals on specific measures covering all the main elements of potential clarification and improvement of relevant aspects of current Articles V, VIII and X of the GATT 1994, that might eventually form part of an agreement. Canada is a co-sponsor of three such proposals to date on binding advance rulings for tariff classification, border agency coordination (both across borders and among agencies on one side of a border) and separation of release of goods from clearance procedures. Canada is also a co-sponsor of one of the implementation proposals for the eventual agreement on Trade Facilitation. The WTO Secretariat has prepared compilation of all submissions received to date from WTO Members.

A wide variety of international financial institutions, donors, United Nations agencies, the World Customs Organization and non-governmental organizations are also involved in supporting programs and finding practical solutions that facilitate trade. Canada is actively supporting efforts on technical assistance and capacity building that will help developing countries meet higher standards of border management, and agrees with the inclusion of these elements as an integral part of the negotiations.

Canada will continue to advocate the merits of reducing red-tape at borders and expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, not only at the WTO but also through our bilateral free trade agreements and in forums such as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), where we are an active member.

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Contact Point

If you have questions or comments, please contact Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada at:

Tariffs and Goods Market Access Division (TPG) 
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0G2
Fax: 613-992-6002
E-mail :