Finance Minister Arun Jaitley released National Trade Facilitation Action Plan
The NTFAP aims to improve ease of doing business by improving investment climate through better infrastructure and doing away glitches that trouble businesses to perform well.
The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 20 July 2017 released the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) in New Delhi.
After releasing NTFAP, the finance minister said that the WTO-Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) was a major milestone for the global trading system. The WTO-Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) entered into force on 22 February 2017.
Jaitley also said India looks forward to ensuring compliance with the TFA. He further added that this Action Plan gives a time bound map, not only for implementing TFA but also for India's initiatives for trade facilitation and ease of doing business which goes beyond TFA.
Aim of the National Action Plan: The plan aims to transform cross border clearance ecosystem through efficient, coordinated, risk based, transparent, digital, seamless and technology driven procedures, which is supported by state-of-the-art airports, sea ports and land borders.
Objectives: The objectives include improvement in ease of doing business by reduction in cargo release time and cost, transparent and predictable legal regime, move towards the paperless regulatory environment and improved investment climate through better infrastructure.
Activities listed in the Action Plan
The Action Plan lists out specific activities that will be carried out by all regulatory agencies like Customs, Drug Controller, FSSAI, DGFT, Plant Quarantine, among others in time bound manner. This coordination among all stakeholders is needed to achieve the objective of Trade facilitation.
The Action Plan not only covers the activities that fall under the ambit of TFA but it goes beyond the ambit of TFA per se, which has been defined as TFA Plus category.
The Action Plan covers many activities in the areas of infrastructure augmentation, particularly the road and rail infrastructures leading to ports and the infrastructure within ports, airports, ICDs, Land Customs stations that cuts across all stakeholders for which various ministries like Shipping, Civil Aviation, Railways, Road Transport and Highways, Home Affairs, Finance, Commerce etc have been assigned specified targets.
How have the actions under plan been covered?
The notification says that all actions that fall under the plan have been categorised by prioritising the activities into short term, mid-term and long-term activities. In addition to this, the National Plan 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.
According to a Finance Ministry statement, all actions covered under the plan have been categorised by prioritising the activities into the short, mid and long term.
Earlier, a National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) headed by the Cabinet Secretary was constituted in accordance with Article 23.2 of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The NCTF comprised of stakeholders from the Government and the private sectors including trade community. Later, the NCTF 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).