The commerce ministry is finalising a draft note on the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization and will soon approach the Cabinet for an approval, a senior government official said.
The ministry has received comments from various departments on a draft note circulated earlier. The final note is being prepared, factoring in the comments, which will then be placed before the Cabinet, the official added. The TFA is aimed at easing customs rules, expediting the movement and clearance of goods and effective cooperation between appropriate authorities of countries concerned on trade facilitation.
In 2014, India had decided against endorsing the TFA, which was part of the Bali ministerial package of the WTO in 2013, until the country’s concerns on a permanent solution to the issue of public stockholding was addressed. However, now that the recently-concluded Nairobi ministerial has reaffirmed commitments to firm up the permanent solution on this issue, India is expected to endorse the TFA.
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. It has the potential to raise global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion a year, according to a recent WTO report.
The WTO got six more ratifications for the TFA at Nairobi ministerial, bringing up to 63 the number of its members that have formally accepted the pact.
However, the TFA can come into force only when two-thirds of the 162-odd WTO members formally accept the agreement. Myanmar, Norway, Vietnam, Brunei, Zambia and Ukraine are the latest to endorse the pact, which has already been ratified by several developed and developing countries, including the US, Japan, Australia, Korea and China.
Another WTO report suggests only 62 measures, aimed at facilitating trade, were initiated by the G20 nations, including India, between mid-May and mid-October, with a monthly average of just over 12, the slowest pace since November 2013. However, the G20 imposed 86 new trade-restrictive measures between mid-May and mid-October, the same pace at which the group had slapped curbs between mid-October 2014 and mid-May 2015.