India ratifies WTO trade facilitation agreement

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) The union cabinet on Wednesday accorded approval to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) trade facilitation agreement (TFA) — reached in December 2013 and which could increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion annually.

“The cabinet today (Wednesday) approved the proposal for notification of the commitment to the trade facilitation agreement under the WTO,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here after the meeting.

Explaining that the cabinet approval was part of the TFA ratification process by WTO members towards increasing ease of doing business, Prasad said that a committee on trade facilitation is being constituted.

“A national committee on trade facilitation will be formed, which will have the secretaries of revenue and commerce as co-chairs,” he said.

The TFA, approved by 160 WTO members, aims to streamline and harmonise customs procedures to bring an estimated saving of over $1 trillion annually.

The agreement will come into force when two-thirds of the 161 WTO members have ratified it.

An agreement between India and the US last year opened the way for a consensus on the TFA which eluded the WTO members.

The WTO has said full implementation of the TFA could increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion annually, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said in a report on Monday.

The overall boost to world export growth per annum has been estimated at up to 2.7 percent due to the TFA deal on standardising global customs procedures, which was the first multilateral agreement concluded by the WTO.

India has asked for a permanent solution to the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes and not restricted for a period of four years as decided earlier during the WTO ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in 2013.

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