The main objective of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) Country Tracking Tool is to examine alignment from both a legal perspective (de jure) and an implementation of policies to facilitate trade perspective (de facto). In the first instance, the tool is designed to help countries evaluate, benchmark, and report on their level of alignment with the WTO TFA.
While the TFA does not always impose an obligation on Member States to implement certain measures and, in many cases, allows a significant degree of flexibility, the focus of the tool is not on compliance in a narrow sense but on full and effective implementation. As an example, while TFA Article 7.4 states that “each member shall, to the extent possible, adopt or maintain a risk management system for customs control,” for the purposes of the tool, risk management should be adopted for customs control and other technical controls in order for a country to be considered fully aligned with the measure.
In assessing country alignment with the TFA, the tool takes a whole-of-government. This means that all relevant agencies should, in principle, be aligned in order for a country to receive full credit. However, in order to keep the assessment manageable, four agencies have been selected as representative of the state of alignment of the government as a whole. Where a technical measure involves implementation by multiple authorities, the Tracking Tool requires the technical measure to be assessed separately from the perspective of each of the following four border authorities that exercise border control functions:
- agency responsible for administration of the customs laws
- agency responsible for product standards/conformity assessment controls
- agency responsible for plant phytosanitary controls / plant health / plant quarantine / biosecurity)
- agency responsible for food safety controls OR agency responsible for animal health / veterinary controls
These four authorities were selected as the border authorities most commonly responsible in implementation of TFA measures.
The tool does not assign more weight to a particular set of measures than to others