Government to simplify customs norms,to reach out to ports, airports, border areas

Source: The Economic Times, Jan 13, 2017

NEW DELHI: The government plans to sensitise ports, airports, border areas, tier-II states and land customs stations about a global trade agreement that seeks to expedite movement of goods and simplify customs procedures.

The commerce department is set to begin an outreach programme in a fortnight to make industry aware of the simplified norms under the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement which is expected to come into force this month.

“We are working on an all-India sensitisation plan for the industry because ultimately they have to implement and benefit from the easier norms,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified.

The agreement is part of the WTO’s Bali ministerial package of 2013 and will come into force after it is formally accepted by two-thirds of the organisation’s members.

Till now, 106 of the WTO’s 162 member countries have ratified this pact. To start with, the government will establish round-the-clock enquiry points for all stakeholders.

A working group under the National Committee on Trade Facilitation is already looking at procedural bottlenecks that hinder easy movement of goods. “The enquiry points have to be vibrant,” said another official.

The agreement comprises articles covering provisions such as information availability and publication, advance rulings, review procedures, customs cooperation and exportimport of goods, among others, with various provisions that countries have to comply with.

India has sought five years to make legislative changes required to implement the agreement which seeks to expedite 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.


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