Customs/port efficiency to be same at Mumbai, Shanghai or Rotterdam!

New Delhi, Dec 7 (KNN) In a development which will be music to the ears of exporters and importers, WTO has reached an agreement on trade facilitation that will ensure that the customs procedures and port handling would be the same at Mumbai, Shanghai, Rotterdam, or New York.
 
While the focus in India is more on the kind of political victory in WTO as regards UPA government’s flagship food security programme, for industry particularly in the small and medium segment, the implications would be quite rewarding from the Bali package reached by 159 trade ministers of WTO member countries.
 
The deal on trade facilitation is expected to bring benefits to the world trade to the extent of USD 1 trillion.
 
Its objectives, according to the WTO statement at the end of the five day Bali ministerial meeting are, “To speed up customs procedures; make trade easier, faster and cheaper, reduce bureaucracy and corruption, and technological advances.”
 
India with support from several developing countries was successful in receiving a commitment that the financial assistance for improving port and customs infrastructure will come from the rich world.
 
While, the case for such an agreement was being pushed by the developed countries, the benefits would also accrue significantly to trade and businesses in the developing countries like India.
 
The agreement which is scheduled to come into force from 2015 prescribes that each WTO member country will enable the documents required for imports and exports on the internet.
 
“Each member (country) shall within its available resources establish or maintain one or more enquiry points to answer reasonable enquiries of governments, traders and other interested parties…”
 
High level of transaction cost, considered to be almost 30 per cent for Indian exports results largely from delays at the custom’s points and ports.
 
Agreement covers several key areas that will ensure that Indian shipments are not subjected to non-trade barriers in the name of delays resulting from test relating to health standards etc.
 
With regards to the consignments of the perishable groups of all 159 member countries have agreed that they would be released at the ports at the shortest possible time.
 
For such groups, the customs and other related authorities would also be required to work outside the business hours.
 
“Each member (country) shall either arrange or allow an importer to arrange for the proper storage of perishable good pending their release.”
 
Several industry associations including FISME, CII, FICCI and FIEO have welcomed this agreement.