India is set to ratify at the “earliest” the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) trade facilitation agreement (TFA) on goods, aimed at relaxing customs rules for smoother trade flow, but the country will also seek a similar pact on services which should be of particular interest to developing nations.
“We are fully committed to it (TFA in goods). It is a complex exercise and most of the consultation is complete and we believe that we should be able to ratify it at the earliest,” commerce secretary Rita Teaotia said on Tuesday at a function organised by the International Chamber of Commerce here.
However, even if India ratifies the TFA in goods, the agreement can come into force only when two-thirds of the 162 WTO members formally accept the agreement. So far, 63 countries, including most developed countries, have formally accepted the pact.
The TFA is projected to cut the cost of trade by an average of 14.5 per cent and the impact could be greater than elimination of all remaining tariffs, according to WTO director general Roberto Azevêdo. The TFA in goods was endorsed by the WTO in Bali in 2013.
“Just as the TFA (in goods), there is a need to work towards a TFA in services. This should be the next item of work. Besides accelerated flow of goods, easier flow of services and liberalising of services trade particularly in areas of interest to the developing nations has to be a high-priority agenda item,” Teaotia added.
Services sector accounts for about 60 per cent of the India’s economic growth.
India, she further said would have to be careful about the domestic policies which would come under greater scrutiny with the rise of GDP.
She said that India needs to “develop a roadmap to phase out” the agriculture export subsidies.
Talking about the stalled Doha Development Agenda (DDA), the secretary said work on it must continue as the decisions taken since 2001 needs to be respected and taken forward.
“We believe that without reaching some kind of respectable progress on the DDA, it is difficult to bring in new issues into the WTO,” she said adding in the DDA, there are legitimate interest of poor farmers and food security of millions of people of developing countries.
Developing countries wants outcome on the pending Doha Round issues like commitments to cut farm subsidies by the rich nations “before we move on to the new items of work,” she said. Developed nations want the WTO to discuss new issues like investments and e-commerce among others. FE & PTI