At a recently held World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting on trade facilitation, India informed the body that it had incorporated more than 70 percent of the measures it had promised to implement under the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
"There were suggestions by countries like the US, Brazil and Colombia on placing binding clauses on members for early implementation of TFA provisions. Though India has implemented most of what was promised, it also said putting pressure in a pandemic year would be unfair," a senior government official told Moneycontrol.
The TFA was concluded at the WTO’s Bali Ministerial Conference in 2013 and has been in force since 2017. The TFA 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.
A Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) has been created to help ensure developing and least-developed countries obtain the assistance needed to reap the full benefits of the TFA.
"What these (the US, Brazil and Colombia) countries put forward was the importance of cross-border trade during a pandemic. It's essential that goods keep moving to those who need them in a time of crisis. They weren't making new demands by WTO members, but pointed out that whatever was already promised needs to speed up," the official said.
India's position has been that the countries should be let to determine the right time for them to implement their commitments and putting a binding clause would not be right.
India’s rate of implementation of measures is much higher than the average, which is about 66 percent for the entire WTO membership. Fifteen developing country members have already achieved 100 percent implementation of the TFA. Developed countries were required to ensure full implementation when the TFA entered into force.