In a globalized world, where goods often cross borders several times, such as intermediate and finished products, trade facilitation helps reduce overall trade costs and increase economic prosperity, particularly for developing and emerging countries. The OECD also allows countries to identify their strengths and weaknesses in trade facilitation, prioritize policy areas, and better target technical assistance and capacity building. IFTs measure not only in absolute terms the actual measure of trade facilitation, but also their performance relative to others, using a series of quantitative measures in key areas of the border process. Trade facilitation objectives have been included in the international agenda, mainly due to four major factors. The eleven TFIs take values from 0 to 2, 2 indicating the best performance that can be achieved. The TFI dataset variables are coded at 0, 1 or 2. These are intended not only to reflect the legal framework in the countries concerned, but also, where possible, to take into account the progress of the implementation of various trade facilitation measures. The methodological note provides an overview of how indicators are developed and describes the data collection process. The WTO, WTO members and other intergovernmental organizations, including the World Bank, the World Customs Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), provide technical assistance to trade facilitation. In July 2014, the WTO announced the creation of a trade facilitation mechanism that helps developing countries and LDCs implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement. The facility came into force on 27 November 2014 with the adoption of the Trade Facilitation Protocol. The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) came into force on 22 February 2017. This is the result of the Doha round of trade negotiations launched in 2001.
The text of the TFA was adopted by WTO members at the 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali on 3 and 6 December 2013. The agreement entered into force in accordance with Article X:3 of the WTO agreement and members must individually accept the amendment to the WTO agreement by tabling an instrument for accepting the amendment protocol adopted on 27 November 2014. An updated list of members who have adopted the minutes is available on the WTO website. With the Trade Facilitation Agreement, WTO members aim to: when policymakers talk about “trade facilitation,” they refer to a specific set of measures that streamline and simplify the technical and legal procedures for products arriving or arriving in an international country. Trade facilitation therefore encompasses the full range of border procedures, from electronic data exchange to the ability to challenge the administrative decisions of border management agencies through transfer, to the simplification and harmonization of trade documents. The first discussions on trade facilitation began in the mid-1990s. In 1996, the Singapore Ministerial Conference gave the WTO its original directive, but under a different conceptual title.  The language used in the letter reflected a possible compromise between those who wished to renegotiate the terms of an agreement and those, particularly those in developing and least developed countries, who had doubts about the success of new negotiations and preferred a much tighter/limited agenda.
Many of the doubts about a new multilateral trade agreement in the future related to the fact that they did not have the capacity to meet additional commitments, particularly for developing and least developed countries.