India Commerce Minister Highlights Significance of WTO TFA Ratification
17 February 2016
India's Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Cabinet's decision to ratify the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA) is a 'very important step,' and affirmed the Government's initiatives to improve systems within India for trade facilitation.
Commerce Minister Sitharaman reviewed major provisions of the TFA already being implemented in India, including:
- Publication of relevant trade-related information, including trade procedures and forms;
- System for administrative appeal/review; Facility for electronic payment;
- Allowing release of goods on bank guarantee, in cases of delay in assessment; and
- Freedom of transit.
Necessary provisions that India should adopt include:
- Legal changes in current policies on inward and outward processing of re-import and re-export of goods for repair and reconditioning, and release of goods before payment of duty is made;
- More enquiry points to promote availability of information to government offices, traders, other stakeholders;
- Special facilitation measures for perishable goods; and
- Single window.
Commerce Minister Sitharaman underscored that changes in the present Customs Act are needed to implement the WTO TFA. She said the Cabinet has requested 5 years to implement provisions that require further investment and technology, and to resolve issues that require legislative amendment.
India is set to formally deposit its ratification with the WTO, and will become the 71st WTO Member to ratify the Agreement.