NEW DELHI: Government will set up a trade facilitation panel for implementing a WTO pact which aims at easing customs norms for faster clearance of goods to boost exports.

India formally ratified WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) last month, a move which would supplement the ongoing reforms to bring in simplification and enhanced transparency in cross border trade in goods.

“India has initiated the process to set-up a National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) to domestically coordinate and implement the TFA,” the Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

The NCTF would institutionalise the co-ordination mechanism in such a manner that the 35 plus departments, private players and state governments that have international borders are on the same page as far as the trade facilitation is concerned, it said.

Addressing the consultative committee meeting attached to her ministry on ‘Implementation of TFA’ here yesterday, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the pact envisages faster clearances and reduction of red-tapism at the borders and would help in the ease of doing business.

She said ratification of the TFA is bound to change Indian trade and would bring more transparency in trade process.

Now the best trade practices worldwide would be shared among the member countries, she added.

“While we have made rapid strides in streamlining our processes on the line of international best practices, in several areas, we need to ensure speedy legislation so that there are visible beneficial outcomes,” the minister said.

Industry and its various associations would be associated in the consultation process while implementing the different provisions of the TFA, she said.

Through trade facilitation, WTO member countries would seek to simplify trade procedures and help promote cross border trade, bring greater predictability to traders and help improve the overall climate for trade and investment.

She said that TFA is supposed to enable domestic manufacturers, particularly small and medium enterprises, connect more easily to regional and global value chains.

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.

The trade facilitation pact is divided into three parts – section 1 contains provisions on simplification of border clearance procedures and adoption of new transparency measures and consists of 12 articles.

These articles extend to several agencies such as customs, border control, shipping, plant and animal quarantine. All of this require inter-ministerial cooperation and coordination.