The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley has said that it is in the larger interest of every country to ensure that trade barriers are brought down and trade facilitation is done to the largest extent possible, within the domestic legal framework. Trade barriers will have an impact on transactional costs; any delay adds to the costs, takes away competitiveness, and domestic economies themselves start suffering, noted the Minister. He was addressing the opening session of the 80th Session of Policy Commission of World Customs Organization in Mumbai today December 3, 2018. Shri Jaitley joined the session from Delhi, through video conference. The three-day session is being organized by the WCO and hosted by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), India in Mumbai.
The Finance Minister recalled that there was a lack of clarity on the issue when trade facilitation came up initially in 1996 on the agenda of global trade talks. Despite this, every country was in due course compelled to realize that the matter needs attention. He expressed happiness that by 2014, most countries had come to agree on the importance of trade facilitation and that WTO had finally reached an agreement as regards trade facilitation.
Thanking WCO for inviting him to address the opening session, he said that the Policy Commission is an extremely important forum of the WCO and that its role has been of great significance to the global economy. As the world economy grows, trade itself is going to increase immensely. He stated that trading across barriers of nations is an economic imperative of our times, which is going to increase in times to come.
Further, increase in trade itself gives an impetus to global as well as national economies. Jaitley added that the single biggest factor that dominates global trade is the larger interest of consumers, who are entitled to the best and cost-effective goods and services.
The Finance Minister said that India has been at the forefront of improving its capacities, as reflected in India's performance in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings, which leapfrogged from 142 for 2014 to 77 for 2019. He observed that India's ranking in the parameter Trading across Borders has improved greatly, from 146 to 80 in one year itself. He informed the gathering that India is investing in infrastructure, using technology to the best extent possible, and is willing to adopt global best practices. He expressed confidence that the Policy Commission meeting will be a great forum to discuss the future roadmap as regards trade facilitation and the policy changes required; nations would be able to learn from each other's best practices and would stand better informed and educated by the discussions of the forum. He said that the deliberations would be useful not only to participating nations, but also to the WCO's policy, which will thus be helpful to all emerging and developing countries as well.
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