We all know that trade of commodities across borders is bureaucratic, expensive, and time-consuming. International trade is one of the drivers of national prosperity, and the functioning of the international trading machine should therefore be of concern to all Word Trade (WTO) members. The WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA), concluded in December 2013, for the first time provides the opportunity to significantly facilitate cross-border trade within an international legal framework, to make it more transparent and predictable for economic operators. Bureaucratic customs procedures are to be simplified and standardized, and regulations and customs procedures streamlined. The aim is to reduce costs for companies and promote entrepreneurial development worldwide. Facilitating trade will benefit all companies, consumers and governments.
I remember being invited to the very first “Werkstattgespräch” by the Parliamentary State Secretary Hans-Joachim Fuchtel back in 2016. Following a presentation by Mr. Fuchtel on the importance of the agreement on trade facilitation for Germany, I realized the potential and relevance of this initiative. Siemens agreed to support the implementation of the agreement. Together with German business community, Siemens supported the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to establish a National Alliance to pool expertise and resources and promote cooperation and knowledge sharing on existing issues in trade. The very first Working Meeting of the German Alliance took place March 2017 at Siemens AG in Erlangen.
We at Siemens Healthineers believe that the TFA will benefit businesses as well as consumers. Trade with less barriers not only enables better access to the market, but at the same time supports participation in global value chains. Countries in which products can be imported and exported quickly and reliably are attractive trading partners and potential locations for companies that want to invest and offer their customers good products at fair prices.
The benefits of cheaper and easier trade transactions translate directly into increased prosperity and wellbeing for all countries involved in the process. The TFA should not be just a unilateral or bilateral issue for a limited number of countries. And to be successful, a facilitation agenda needs wide political support and the sustained commitment of those active in the formulation and implementation of trade policy.
How can we sustainably strengthen the interests of German business within the German Alliance? How can we simultaneously strengthen the trade capacity of partner countries which contributes to poverty reduction and employment? What can we do at the national level to reduce trade barriers and facilitate trade worldwide with the combined strength of the ministries and the business community?
The 13th Working Meeting will offer a platform to jointly discuss these questions as well as new and existing trade facilitation initiatives. Siemens Healthineers warmly invites you to join us from 24-25 April in Forchheim.