Trade Facilitation Support Program (TFSP)
About the Program

Trade facilitation plays an important role in development. It enhances countries' competitiveness, allowing them to trade goods and services on time and with low transaction costs.

The Trade Facilitation Support Program (TFSP), managed by the World Bank Group's Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment (MTI) Global Practice, provides support for countries seeking assistance in aligning their trade practices with the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA), which entered into force in February 2017.

TFSP is designed to provide practical and demand-driven assistance. The Program helps developing countries benefit from increased trade and foreign investments that result in increased private sector trade competitiveness. Over 40 countries have started implementation activities to date, with the majority in Sub-Saharan Africa (28%).

Recognizing the important roles of both the public and private sectors in trade facilitation, the World Bank Group implements the TFSP by drawing on the unique expertise of both the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Partnerships are essential in the Bank Group support on the TFA to maximize coordination and coherence, and to ensure that development resources and external expertise are used most effectively. As a founding member of the “Annex D” group of organizations working on trade facilitation, the World Bank Group has cooperated closely at the global, regional and country levels with partners – and we have supported the expansion of the group to include new members. The World Bank Group has also contributed to the development of implementation monitoring tools such as the OECD’s trade facilitation indicators.

Consultative Committee

A Consultative Committee consisting of TFSP's donors, the World Bank Group's Development Research Group, and Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment (MTI) Global Practice leadership team has been established to further refine the agenda and approach, and rollout of the Program. The Committee meets semi-annually to:

  • Monitor implementation progress and provide overall guidance
  • Review the country selection criteria
  • Assist with identifying partners for systems/infrastructure implementation
  • Facilitate the engagement with the WTO and other key partners.

Nine partners have committed US$37 million to the TFSP.

Donor partners:

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia (DFAT)
Global Affairs Canada
European Union (EU)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs of Switzerland (SECO)
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID)
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Implementing partners:

Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF)
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, United Kingdom
International Air Transport Association (IATA)
Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
International Plant and Protection Convention (IPPC)
International Trade Centre (ITC)
Trade Mark East Africa
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
World Customs Organization (WCO)
World Trade Organization (WTO)


State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO

The TFSP was established to help developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) reform their trade facilitation practices in a manner consistent with the measures of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), concluded at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013.


To receive support under the Program, countries are expected to have demonstrated a strong commitment to implementing trade facilitation reforms in the areas covered by the WTO TFA.  Moreover, the TFSP will prioritize assistance to countries with limited access to other donor support.  Requests for technical assistance can be made directly to the Trade Facilitation Support Program or through WBG offices and partners.


There are two main components to the TFSP approach - technical assistance and knowledge, learning and measurement.

Technical Assistance

The Program helps developing countries reform trade facilitation laws, procedures, processes, systems and consultative mechanisms within the context of the provisions of the WTO TFA.

Main areas of technical assistance:

  • Assist with scheduling of commitments and implementation timelines
  • Review and validation of self-assessments and identification of reform gaps
  • Support and strengthening of National Trade Facilitation Committees
  • Review/revision and drafting of trade laws and implementation of regulations to ensure alignment with the TFA
  • Simplify, streamline and harmonize trade procedures and documents to reduce time and cost to trade
  • Improve transparency and accountability measures of trade practices
  • Foster partnerships between public and private sectors to catalyze trade
  • Facilitate reforms
  • Integrate risk-based management systems and other contemporary border management approaches into border inspections and clearance processes
  • Review inter-agency coordination and design institutional capacity building plans
  • Support regional solutions to facilitate the recognition of agreed standards for goods crossing borders
  • Implement policies and practices to facilitate the recognition of agreed standards for goods crossing borders
  • Support design and implementation of automated systems and innovative technologies to facilitate trade

With an aim of creating and sustaining reform momentum, TFSP places emphasis on rapid response-type interventions. Additionally, the Program can finance selected interventions that are not specifically covered by the TFA, but which support its purpose of creating more open trade regimes and achieving greater impact.

Knowledge, Learning & Measurement

We support countries to learn from their experiences, monitor and measure success. This includes the promotion of implementation and early ratification of the TFA, often in partnership with the WTO and other partners.

Some of the knowledge activities we have implemented include:

  • Global analytical products
  • Toolkits to support reform planning and implementation
  • Monitoring tools to assess TFA alignment, track reform implementation, identify reform priorities and quick win opportunities, and report and benchmark on progress. The TFA Alignment Tracking Tool (TT) provides a mechanism for countries to track their reform implementation and report on progress regarding full and effective alignment with the TFA.
  • Validation assessment guide to help countries conduct in-country assessments and determine alignment with the WTO TFA, its technical assistance and capacity-building support needs, and priorities in implementing the TFA. The guide is based on the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation Articles and builds on the WTO Self-Assessment Guide prepared by the World Bank.
  • Gender assessments to explore the barriers that women traders face in complying with import and export procedures.
  • Peer-to-peer learning events that bring together practitioners to share reform implementation experiences and challenges have been held in several countries. 
  • SmartLessons (case studies) that showcase the successes and challenges in implementing trade facilitation reforms.

Where technical assistance is clearly required and requested by member countries, or where self-implementation efforts require support, the World Bank Group will assist countries on any combination of the WTO TFA implementation activities outlined below:


Phase 1

  • Finalize validation missions and review of Country Self-Assessments
  • Agree on priorities for reform implementation
  • Propose sequence of activities and timeline
Phase 2
  • Identification and support in implementing Quick Wins and medium term reforms
  • Initiate projects (TA and through lending programs)
Phase 3
  • Longer term reform activities through WBG Lending
  • Help leverage funds from WB and other partners for longer term, bigger scale ICT and infrastructure development

Initial Activities:

  1. Validation of WTO TFA Self-Assessment: The WBG will support countries in updating the TFA self-assessment, including undertaking an in-country field validation.
  2. Identification of Category A, B, and C commitments: The WBG can support countries in finalizing category A, B, and C commitments.
  3.  Finalize Reform Priorities: The WBG can provide support in the development of a reform map and timeline for implementation of priority areas of reform, including its validation with all relevant public and private stakeholders. Once an agreed upon reform map is validated, the appropriate level of technical assistance can be offered by the WBG.


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