Indian Papers/submissions in WTO – Trade Facilitation
Trade Facilitation is the only subject from the bundle of four Singapore issues on which negotiation had started pursuant to the WTO’s July Framework Agreement of 2004. The modalities for negotiation are set out in Annex D of the July Framework Agreement. There are three identified aims of negotiation under Annex D: (i) To clarify and improve relevant aspects of GATT Articles V (Freedom of Transit), VIII (Fees and Formalities connected with Importation and Exportation) and X (Publication and Administration of Trade Regulations); (ii) Enhance technical assistance and support for capacity building in this area; (iii) To have provision for effective cooperation between Customs authorities on trade facilitation and Customs compliance issues.
2. India’s participation in the negotiations has been positive and constructive. In the ongoing negotiation, Members have already submitted a large number of proposals for clarification of GATT Articles V, VIII & X. India has filed a detailed proposal on how a multilateral cooperation mechanism would operate (W/68) which has been co-sponsored by Sri Lanka. Pursuant to the proposal submitted by India under document W/68 on Co-operation Mechanism for Customs Compliance, another paper (TN/TF/W/103 dated 10 May, 2006) has been filed by India containing specific elements for multilateral cooperation mechanism for exchange of information between customs administrations of Members. Later India has filed its textual proposal (TN/TF/W/123 dated 4 July, 2006) on Cooperation Mechanism for Customs Compliance which has also been co-sponsored by Sri Lanka.
3. India has also presented its own proposals (TN/TF/W/77 dated 10th February, 2006 and TN/TF/W/78 dated 13th February, 2006) for clarification of the existing provisions of GATT Article VIII and Article X. India has subsequently filed textual proposals – TN/TF/W/121 and TN/TF/W/122, both dated 4th July, 2006.
4. Negotiations are also looking at the aspect of technical and financial assistance for capacity building in developing countries. A proposal (TN/TF/W/82 dated 31 March, 2006) has been jointly filed by the People’s Republic of China, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. This paper addresses the concerns of the developing countries such as (i) the arrangement of commitments for developing Members, (ii) the provision of technical assistance and capacity building support; and (iii) the applicability of the dispute settlement mechanism.
5. The Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration on Trade Facilitation is a good basis for further negotiations on this subject.