The US has taken a final step towards allowing the World Trade Organization (WTO) to fully implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) - the first multilateral trade agreement in the WTO's 20-year history.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman has formally delivered the US's letter of acceptance of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo in Davos, Switzerland.

The delivery of the letter is the final step the US has to take toward the entry into force of the agreement that promises to improve trade efficiency and is projected to generate hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity.

The deal had been threatened in July – along with other elements of the Bali Package – when a small group of WTO members blocked the adoption of the Protocol of Amendment for the TFA. But the obstacles were cleared late last year, allowing the full implementation of the TFA by the WTO.

The US is the third WTO member to follow through with its letter of acceptance; Singapore and Hong Kong have also submitted letters.

Froman said: “The agreement will unlock immense commercial opportunities for all developing and developed countries alike. These benefits can only be fully realised with implementation of this agreement. We all want to start enjoying the benefits and we hope other members will take this crucial next step as soon as possible.

The agreement contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also promises major reductions in costs and administrative burdens associated with moving goods across borders. This is especially the case for developing countries, which, by some estimates, may see reductions in trade costs of up to 15%.

The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO’s 160 members have completed their domestic legal procedures and submitted instruments of acceptance.