45 As mentioned above, the most significant benefits for the least developed countries in Bali could paradoxically flow from the Trade Facilitation Agreement, an area in which LDCs were not the main countries in demand. In a world increasingly dominated by global value chains, the benefits of simplified customs procedures and lower transaction costs are well established. However, the largest growth is expected to be as a result of a possible boost in intra-regional trade, where considerable growth potential remains untapped. Certainly, some countries will have real difficulties in implementing certain elements of the agreement if there is no technical assistance and capacity building. These concerns were widely expressed with regard to the need for balance in Sections I and II of the agreement. However, the agreement contains a number of reference provisions that allow for flexibility in planning and order of implementation and that combine commitments with the capabilities acquired as a result of technical assistance. 39 At the 2005 Ministerial Conference, WTO members agreed that “members of industrialized countries provide sustainable duty- and quota-free markets for all products originating in all LDCs… However, a comfortable escape clause stated that “members in difficulty … offer tariff-free and quota-free access for at least 97% of LDC products defined on the tariff line, while taking steps to gradually reach 100% of the DFQF. Since then, several industrialized and emerging countries have implemented DFQF systems of different types. While, for example, Canada, Japan and the EU cover more than 98% of tariff lines duty-free and have few exceptions, U.S.
trade preferences allow on average only 82.4% of duty-free imports, with exclusions covering 1,834 national customs borders (WTO, 2012), mainly covering textiles and clothing to avoid competition from countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia.12 56Bali has without no doubt was a decisive success for the multilateral trading system. As Director-General Roberto Azavédo pointed out at the closing ceremony: “For the first time in our history, the WTO has really provided.”17 By avoiding failures, Bali has pitted those who remove the multilateral trading system as a negotiating forum and put the WTO back on track to some extent.