DP10212 The Bali Trade Facilitation Agreement and Rulemaking in the WTO: Milestone, Mistake or Mirage?

Author(s): Bernard Hoekman
Publication Date: October 2014
Keyword(s): economic development, international negotiations, trade agreements, trade costs, WTO
JEL(s): F13, F53, O24, R11
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10212

The Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) embodies the first set of new multilateral rules to have been negotiated under auspices of the WTO, part of a small package of decisions centering on matters of interest to developing countries that was ?harvested? from the broader Doha round. This paper analyzes the outcome of the trade facilitation talks, assesses the role of the epistemic community that provided information to negotiators and reflects on the lessons and possible implications of the TFA experience for the prospects for new rule-making and cooperation on regulatory matters in the WTO. The TFA illustrates both the potential and the difficulty of negotiating generally applicable stand-alone agreements in the WTO and demonstrates the importance of issue linkage in achieving cooperation in trade policy matters.