The Union Cabinet has approved the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of WTO.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.
In tune to this India will require “legal changes” and that includes inward and outward processing to facilitate re-import and re-export of goods for repair, reconditioning; and release of goods before payment of duty will have to be allowed on a guarantee/surety in all cases of imports where the duty is not determined prior to or upon arrival, or as rapidly as possible after arrival.
To facilitate both domestic coordination and implementation of the provisions of the Agreement, a National Committee on Trade Facilitation would be set up under the Joint Chair of Secretary, Department of Revenue and Secretary, Department of Commerce.
The committee has a three-tier structure with the main national committee as the pivot for monitoring the implementation of the TFA.
The composition of the NCTF is inclusive at the national committee level which will comprise of Secretaries of all key Departments involved in trade issues like Revenue, Commerce, Agriculture, Home, Shipping, Health etc. It will also have Chairman CBEC, Chairman Railway Board, and Director General Foreign Trade as Members. Major trade associations like CII, FICCI, and FIEO etc are also its Members. Joint Secretary, Customs, CBEC will be its Member Secretary. The total membership stands at 24 and the Committee can co-opt any representatives from the State Governments on relevant issues. The steering committee will be a core group having 15 members from various Ministries and trade bodies.