Press Note- National Committee on Trade Facilitation
Consequent to India’s ratification of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation(TFA) in April 2016,the National Committee on Trade Facilitation(NCTF) has been constituted vide order dated 11th August 2016. The establishment of the Committee is part of the mandatory, institutional arrangement of the TFA. This prime, inter – ministerial body on trade facilitation will be chaired by the Cabinet Secretary. Its Secretariat will be housed within the Central Board of Excise and Customs, in the Directorate General of Export Promotion, New Delhi.
The defined objective behind setting up the NCTF is to have a national level body that will facilitate domestic co-ordination and implementation of TFA provisions. It will play the lead role in developing the pan-India road map for trade facilitation. It will be instrumental in synergizing the various trade facilitation perspectives across the country and will also focus on an outreach programme for sensitization of all stakeholders about TFA.
In consonance with its significant mandate, its composition and structure is holistic. It has a three tier structure with the main national committee that will be the pivot for monitoring the implementation of the TFA. There will be a steering committee below it that will be chaired by Member, Customs, CBEC and which will be responsible for identifying the nature of required legislative changes as well as for spearheading the diagnostic tools needed for assessing our level of compliance to the TFA. It will have the responsibility to form and monitor the working of adhoc working groups of experts that will deal with specific trade facilitation issues. Detailed Terms of Reference for each level of the Committee are contained in the order itself.
The composition of the NCTF is inclusive at the national committee level which will comprise of Secretaries of all key Departments involved in trade issues like Revenue, Commerce, Agriculture, Home, Shipping, Health etc. It will also have Chairman CBEC, Chairman Railway Board, and Director General Foreign Trade as Members. Major trade associations like CII, FICCI, and FIEO etc are also its Members. Joint Secretary, Customs, CBEC will be its Member Secretary. The total membership stands at 24 and the Committee can co-opt any representatives from the State Governments on relevant issues. The steering committee will be a core group having 15 members from various Ministries and trade bodies.
The first meeting of the NCTF with the Cabinet Secretary as the Chair is likely to be convened shortly.
Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue
North Block, New Delhi
Dated the 11th August 2016
Subject:- Constitution of National Committee on Trade Facilitation.
The formation of a National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) is part of the mandatory, institutional arrangement of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA). Article 23.2 of the TFA requires each WTO member to establish and/or maintain a NCTF or designate an existing mechanism to facilitate both domestic co-ordination and implementation of TFA. provisions.
After the recent ratification of WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement by the Cabinet, the government has decided to constitute a National Committee on Trade Facilitation in India.
The NCTF will have a three tiered structure as below:‑
National TF committee – Representatives of all stakeholders included.
Steering committee – A subset of the National committee with a core group of public and private membership.
Working groups – Small & adhoc groups of experts from relevant institutions working on a specific trade facilitation measure or project.
2. The composition of the NCTF is as below:
|1.||Cabinet Secretary, Government of India||Chair|
|Secretaries to the Government of India|
• Ministry of Home Affairs
• Ministry of Shipping
• Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
• Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change
• Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
• Ministry of Textiles
• Ministry of Civil Aviation
• Department of Commerce
• Department of Revenue
• Department of industrial Policy and Promotion
• Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare
• Department of Consumer Affairs
• Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries
|3.||• Chairman, CBEC|
• Chairman, Railway Board
• Director General of Foreign Trade
• Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)
• Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO)
• Confederation of Indian Industry(CII)
• Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM)
• Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Association of India (FFFAI)
• PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI)
|5.||Joint Secretary (Customs), CBEC||Member Secretary|
It will be open to the Committee to co-opt representatives of the State Governments as temporary members based on any issue pertinent to the states as and when flagged (for instance, provisions relating to transit). The Committee will also be empowered to grant observer status to specific industries in the private sector.
The Secretariat of the NCTF will be housed in the CBEC and Directorate General of Export Promotion will service the Secretariat.
The Terms of Reference of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation are as follows:
(i) Finalization and approval of the national trade facilitation plan for implementation of provisions of the Trade Facilitation Agreement based on the categorization of provisions notified to the WTO with clearly defined timelines for each provision or sub-provision. The national trade facilitation plan should comprise sub-plans for each agency involved in the implementation of TFA.
(ii) Finalization and approval of an outreach program on Trade Facilitation comprising specific activities to be conducted for the education of stakeholders and for obtaining their regular feedback and the identification of agencies that would conduct these activities.
(iii) Monitoring progress of TFA implementation and the outreach program and proposing corrective measures wherever necessary based on feedback received through the outreach program.
(iv) Contributing to the legislative changes required to support implementation of the TFA.
(v) Dissemination and compilation of international best practices of formalities, procedures, documentation and related matters of the various Articles of TFA to stakeholders within India and in the region.
(vi) Coordination and integration of the Trade Facilitation plan with the consultative mechanism at state and local level.
(vii) Monitoring the work of the steering committee and the working groups.
The Committee shall meet twice a year and submit an annual report to the Government about the progress made in the implementation of the Agreement along with recommendations to overcome difficulties, if any.
3. Steering Committee
Member (Customs), CBEC will head the Steering Committee having members from the following Ministries/ Departments and Associations:
The Terms of Reference for the Steering Committee are as below:
(i) Identification of agencies/ departments involved in the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, provision-wise.
(ii) Conducting a gap analysis to assess the degree of compliance or non-compliance of the concerned agency(ies)/ department(s) with each provision of the TFA.
(iii) Identification of the nature of change required for achieving full compliance with each provision e.g. change in primary law, change in subordinate legislation, change in procedure, issuance of appropriate instructions, creation of fresh infrastructure etc.
(iv) Estimation of time required to carry out the appropriate changes taking into account the categorization of commitments into Categories A and B notified to WTO.
(v) Collation of a national trade facilitation plan based on these inputs and sub-plans for each agency/ department.
(vi) Submission of the national trade facilitation plan to the NCTF for approval.
(vii) Obtaining periodic inputs from the concerned agencies/ departments about the Progress in implementation of the plan and submission of a progress report to the NCTF in advance of each meeting.
(viii) Preparation of agenda and identification of decision points for each meeting of the NCTF so as to address issues/ problems hampering timely implementation.
(ix) Organizing sensitization and information campaigns on TFA implementation.
(x) Coordinating government communication regarding TFA implementation.
(xi) Ensuring publication of the information on import-export and transit procedures as well as on new/ amended laws on movement and clearance of goods.
(xii) Report to the NCTF twice a year.
The Steering committee shall meet once a quarter.
4. Working Groups
Working groups on subjects covered in the ToR shall be formed by the Steering committee that will meet monthly. The committee could co-opt additional members for the working groups as and when considered necessary. An indicative list of members of working group is at Annexure “A”.
This issue with the approval of competent authority.
Hindi version will follow.
( L. Satya Srinivas )
Joint Secretary (Customs)
End: as above
INDICATIVE LIST FOR WORKING GROUPS