New Delhi–India is setting up a national panel that will cut red-tape for the export-import industry while also ensuring faster clearances of merchandise, in line with the commitment to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“India has also initiated the process to set-up a National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) to domestically coordinate and implement the (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement,” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the parliamentary consultative committee attached to the ministry, according to a release.

Nirmala Sitharaman
Nirmala Sitharaman

“Through the TFA, member-countries would seek to simplify trade procedures and help promote cross-border trade and the overall climate for trade and investment.”

India’s Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organisation, Anjali Prasad, last month formally presented the instrument of acceptance ratifying the agreement to WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo in Geneva.

“She (Sitharaman) said that after TFA ratification, the world-wide best trade practices would be shared among the member countries,” the statement said.

“In several areas, we need to ensure speedy legislation so that there are visible beneficial outcomes,” the minister added.

“The NCTF would institutionalise the coordination 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 statement said.

India is the 76th WTO member to accept the TFA, which will enter into force once two-thirds of WTO’s 162 members formally accept the agreement.

The TFA was agreed upon at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in 2013. The agreement aims at expediting the movement and clearance of goods, including goods in transit, and establishing effective cooperation between customs and other authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.

The implementation of the TFA has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion per year, according to the WTO’s 2015 flagship World Trade Report. (IANS)