India is set to ratify at the “earliest” the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) trade facilitation agreement (TFA) on goods, aimed at relaxing customs rules for smoother trade flow, but the country will also seek a similar pact on services which should be of particular interest to developing nations.
“We are fully committed to it (TFA in goods). It is a complex exercise and most of the consultation is complete and we believe that we should be able to ratify it at the earliest,” commerce secretary Rita Teaotia said on Tuesday at a function organised by the International Chamber of Commerce here.
However, even if India ratifies 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, 63 countries, including most developed countries, have formally accepted the pact. 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.
“Just as the TFA (in goods), there is a need to work towards a TFA in services. This should be the next item of work. Besides accelerated flow of goods, easier flow of services and liberalising of services trade particularly in areas of interest to the developing nations has to be a high-priority agenda item,” Teaotia added.