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WTO trade facilitation pact: 4 groups begin work on specifics

 PTI |  2016-12-26 22:12:09.0  |  New Delhi

The Commerce and Finance Ministries have formed four groups to work on specific issues like identifying areas where legislative changes are needed, for a smooth implementation of WTO trade facilitation agreement.

The agreement contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including those in transit.

The working groups will submit their report soon to the steering committee, which is under Cabinet Secretary-headed National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF), an official said.

The objective of the NCTF, which is a national level body, is to facilitate domestic co-ordination and implementation of the TFA provisions. It plays a major role in developing a pan-India roadmap for trade facilitation.

Elaborating on the groups, the official said one of them is headed by the Director Gedneral of Foreign Trade and and its work is to coordinate on all matters pertaining to infrastructure such as roads and railways.

Another group, chaired by senior customs officials, is identifying the areas where legislative changes are required and is working on it.

A joint secretary from the commerce ministry, commissioner Directorate General of Tax Payer Services and Central Board of Excise and Customs are heading the third group which is working on outreach and publicity for the stakeholders dealing with the implementation of the agreement.

The fourth group is working on a Time Release Study, which is a method to measure customs performance in trade facilitation. It is headed by two joint secretary-level officers from customs and ports.

In all these groups, members from industry chambers like FICCI and FIEO are also participating.

The steering committee is a core group of NCTF having 15 members from various ministries and trade bodies.

The first meeting of NCTF with the Cabinet Secretary as the Chair was convened in October. It will meet again after six months, where reports of these groups will be discussed.

Trade facilitation Agreement (TFA) was signed by WTO member countries in 2013. 

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