Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today released the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan and said the WTO-Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) coming into force on February 22, 2017 was a major milestone for the global trading system. Jaitley further said India looks forward to ensuring compliance with the TFA, according to a Finance Ministry statement. “This Action Plan gives a time bound map, not only for implementing TFA but also for India’s initiatives for trade facilitation and ease of doing business which goes beyond TFA,” the statement quoted the finance minister as saying. Jaitley was speaking after releasing the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) here.
According to the statement, the national action plan aims to transform cross border clearance ecosystem through efficient, transparent, risk based, coordinated, digital, seamless and technology driven procedures which are supported by state-of-the-art sea ports, airports and land borders. Noting that the action plan lists out specific activities which would be carried out by all regulatory agencies like Customs, FSSAI, Drug Controller,
Plant Quarantine and DGFT in a time-bound manner, the statement said “the co-ordination among all the stakeholders is the key to achieve the objective of trade facilitation”. The action plan not only covers the activities coming under the TFA but they go beyond the ambit of TFA per se, which have been defined as TFA Plus category, the statement pointed out.
It also covers many activities in the areas of infrastructure augmentation, particularly the road and rail infrastructure leading to ports and the infrastructure within ports, airports, ICDs, land customs stations that cuts across all stakeholders for which various ministries like shipping, civil aviation, railways, road transport and highways, home affairs, finance and commerce have been assigned specified targets. The statement said all actions covered under the plan have been categorised by prioritising the activities into short, mid and long term.
The national plan would be monitored by the steering committee (the operational arm of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation) chaired by the revenue secretary and the commerce secretary, it said, adding, “The plan would be reviewed by the cabinet secretary.” Earlier, under Article 23.2 of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), a National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) headed by the Cabinet Secretary was constituted.
The NCTF comprises stakeholders from the government and the private sector, including trade community. The NCTF has adopted a 76-point National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) which is a reflection of the government’s commitment to implement the TFA.