I have arrived in Istanbul for a two-day visit packed with meetings. The main reason for my visit is to meet with my counterparts from the G20 countries. We will reflect on the ways to make the upcoming 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in December a success.
Last week, the EU Member States followed the earlier positive vote in the European Parliament and approved the so-called Trade Facilitation Agreement. At our meeting today, I am handing over to Director-General Azevêdo the document confirming the EU's binding commitment to this deal. I will hand it over together with Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg, representing the Luxembourgish EU Council presidency.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement aims to simplify and modernise customs procedures worldwide, in a way that will help small businesses access new export opportunities. The deal was agreed during the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali two years ago. Once fully implemented, it will significantly improve customs operations around the globe. Today, we add another 28 signatures.
Now that the EU has completed the ratification procedure, I can only hope that our partners, who have not yet done so, will also ratify it very soon. The number of countries that have completed their internal procedures is soon reaching one third of the WTO members. Others should follow soon, so that our small companies, as well as entrepreneurs in developing countries, can experience the difference the deal will make.
Reduced paperwork and shortened delays will benefit both the EU and developing countries. Improvements will depend mostly on the modernisation of customs procedures in developing parts of the world. That's why the EU has prepared some €400 million to assist developing countries in bringing the agreement into effect.
The second positive news I have for Director-General Azevêdo is the commitment of the EU to support the participation of the least developed countries in the WTO Ministerial meeting in Nairobi in December. We contribute through a €100.000 fund that will cover travel and accommodation expenses - a contribution to make trade work for all.