The Cabinet on Wednesday endorsed the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) trade facilitation agreement (TFA) on goods, aimed at relaxing customs rules for smoother trade flow.
“We have approved the proposal for notification of commitment under the TFA of the WTO,” telecom and information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said after the Cabinet meeting. A national panel on TFA–to be co-chaired by both the revenue and commerce secretaries, will be set up for coordinating and implementing the provisions of trade facilitation, Prasad said.
The TFA is projected to cut the cost of trade by an average of 14.5% and the impact could be greater than elimination of all remaining tariffs, according to WTO director general Roberto Azevêdo. The TFA in goods was part of the Bali declaration of the WTO in 2013.
However, despite India’s ratification of the TFA in goods, the agreement can come into force only when two-thirds of the 162 WTO members formally accept the agreement. So far, 69 countries (excluding India) have formally accepted the pact. The implementation of the TFA has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion per annum, according to the WTO’s flagship World Trade Report.
CCEA nod to rail projects
The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA), on Wednesday approved construction of six railway lines — including four doubling and two tripling works — and one railway bridge, at an estimated cost of `10,700 crore. Major part of the expenditure will be met through extra budgetary resources. The CCEA approved doubling of 190 km long Hubli-Chickajur broad gauge single railway line.