India to form panel to implement WTO’s trade facilitation agreement

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Updated: May 3, 2016 7:30:01 PM

The government will set up a panel to implement the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which envisages faster customs clearances and a reduction of red tape at borders to boost trade.

Nirmala Sitharaman said while India has made rapid strides in streamlining processes on the line of international best practices, it needs to ensure speedy legislation in certain areas so that there are visible beneficial outcomes. (PTI)Nirmala Sitharaman said while India has made rapid strides in streamlining processes on the line of international best practices, it needs to ensure speedy legislation in certain areas so that there are visible beneficial outcomes. (PTI)

The government will set up a panel to implement the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which envisages faster customs clearances and a reduction of red tape at borders to boost trade.

India formally endorsed the TFA at the WTO on April 22, becoming the 76th nation to ratify the pact. So far, 77 of the 162 members of the WTO have endorsed the TFA, with Russia being the latest to do so. The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the members formally accept the agreement.

Chairing the consultative committee meeting on ‘Implementation of TFA’ here on Monday, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while India has made rapid strides in streamlining processes on the line of international best practices, it needs to ensure speedy legislation in certain areas so that there are visible beneficial outcomes. The objectives of the TFA are in consonance with India’s ease of doing business initiative, she added.

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 endorsed by the WTO in Bali in 2013.

The proposed National Committee on Trade Facilitation will domestically coordinate and implement the TFA, the commerce ministry said on Tuesday.

The NCTF would institutionalize the co-ordination mechanism in such a manner the 35-plus departments, private players and state governments who have international borders are on the same page as far as the trade facilitation is concerned,” the ministry said.

Dashboard on trade data launched

Sitharaman on Tuesday launched a dashboard on what is called Exim Analytics, as parts of her ministry’s efforts to provide easier access to the data for meaningful analysis of the country’s trade performance. The dashboard on Exim Analystics “represents data graphically exposing patterns, trends and co-relations that might go undetected in text-based formats”, the ministry said. The dashboard uses the merchandise trade data being provided by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics.

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