2024 The Trade Facilitation Agreement & Other Important Customs Issues, Negotiation Of Trade Agreements


Customs authorities play a vital role with respect to international trade in goods. As the “gatekeepers”, they are charged with determining how much duty to assess on imports, as well as enforcing statutory restrictions on the import of specific goods. The course will discuss the way in which customs authorities carry out their duties, and the international agreements that govern their operations. The course will focus on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), adopted by the WTO in 2013 and entered into force in 2017. The TFA requires each Member to implement 37 specific obligations, all designed to streamline the international movement of goods. The TFA developed countries already comply with all or most of the obligations, so that the burden of implementation will fall most heavily on developing countries. However, the TFA is the first WTO Agreement to allow Members to set their own timetables for implementation and to condition implementation of specific obligations on the receipt of adequate technical assistance.

The course is designed as a practical course that will assist trade officials in their work and provide hands-on advice on implementation of the TFA, as well as to deal with its challenges. It will be taught by present and former senior government officials, leading academics and practitioners, and officials from multinational organizations.

The course will also spend time on the negotiation of trade agreements. It will discuss the need for careful preparation, including detailed interaction with the stakeholders, and techniques for achieving the best possible outcome. It will include a simulated negotiation.


The seminars are currently offered both in-person and online simultaneously, at the choice of the participant. This choice must be indicated at the time of registration. A small number of courses are scheduled to be delivered exclusively in person or online, and are indicated as such in the 2024 schedule. In-Person Only seminars usually start at 9:30 am Washington D.C. time. Daily sessions usually end at 4:00 pm. Breaks (including the lunch break) are allocated as appropriate. Online Only seminars will be delivered through five (for 1-week course) or ten (for 2-weeks course) live online sessions via videoconferencing platform. Each session will last approximately 3.5 hours and will be scheduled to start within a time window of 7:00 am – 8:30 am Washington D.C. time. Hybrid In-Person/Online seminars will start at a time most convenient to both in-person and online participants, and will generally follow the In-Person seminar format. We expect the classes to be highly interactive and can include presentations, case studies and exercises.

Course Outline

Functions of Customs Authorities

  • Duty Assesment
      • Classification
      • Valuation
      • Rules of Origin
  • Import Licensing
  • Other

The Trade Facilitation Agreement

  • Background and rationale
  • Overview of the Agreement
  • Current US Trade Policy
  • Implementation – categorization of requirements
  • Key issues:
      • Transparency
      • Advance rulings
      • Review procedures
      • Release of goods
      • Border agency cooperation
      • Formalities, including Single Window
      • Freedom of transit
      • Customs cooperation
      • Shipping/Logistics
      • Transport security
      • IT and e-commerce

Course Advisors

Patrick Macrory is Director of ILI’s International Trade Law Center. He was a senior partner in two of Washington’s largest law firms, and has practiced trade law for more than forty years. He has taught international trade law at universities in Washington, London, and Tokyo. He has written extensively on the subject, and was Editor-in-Chief of a major multi-volume work on the WTO published in 2005. He is also co-editor of “A Business Guide to Trade and Investment”, published in 2017/18 by the International Chamber of Commerce.

NOTE: This course can be taken on its own or in conjunction with the course on Multilateral and Regional Trade Agreements, to be held the previous week.