On July 21, 2017, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley released the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) and said WTO-Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) coming into force on February 22, 2017 was a major milestone for the global trading system. He also added that India looks forward to ensuring compliance with the TFA
What is WTO-Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)?
The TFA is the World Trade Organization’s first-ever multilateral accord that seeks to simplify and thereby expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders.
- Full implementation of TFA is likely to reduce the time needed to import goods by over a day and a half and to export goods by almost two days.
- TFA is also expected to help new firms export for the first time.
- Moreover, once the TFA is fully implemented, developing countries are predicted to increase the number of new products exported by as much as 20 per cent, with least developed countries (LDCs) likely to see an increase of up to 35 per cent.
India’s National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP):
The national action plan aims to transform cross border clearance ecosystem through efficient, transparent, risk based, coordinated, digital, seamless and technology driven procedures which are supported by state-of-the-art sea ports, airports and land borders.
- It also covers many activities in the areas of infrastructure augmentation; particularly the road and rail infrastructure leading to ports and the infrastructure within ports, airports, land customs stations for which various ministries like shipping, civil aviation, railways, road transport and highways, home affairs, finance and commerce have been assigned specified targets.
- Under NTFAP specific responsibilities have been given to all regulatory agencies like Customs, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Drug Controller, Plant Quarantine, Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), etc to be completed in a time-bound manner.
- NTFAP would be monitored by the Steering Committee (the operational arm of the NCTF) chaired by the Revenue Secretary and the Commerce Secretary. The plan would be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary.
- Earlier, a National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) headed by the Cabinet Secretary was constituted comprising of stakeholders from the Government and the private sectors including trade community.
- The NCTF has adopted 76 point National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) which is a reflection of the Government’s commitment to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
- Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
- Formation: 1 January 1995
- Head: Roberto Azevêdo