The Ministry of Commerce and the Revenue Mobilisation, Investment and Trade (ReMIT) project of the International Trade Centre (ITC) on Tuesday launched the rollout of WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) for cross-border regulatory agencies.
Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including the goods in transit.
TFA entered into force in February 2017. Pakistan became the 51st member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ratify the agreement in October 2017.
Chairing Tuesday’s event, Adviser to Prime Minister on Government Effectiveness Jahanzeb Khan said: “WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement provides an excellent opportunity for Pakistan to cut business costs through a transparent and efficient system for the clearance of goods across borders.”
He pointed out that Covid-19 disrupted economic activity worldwide, thus, in Pakistan, after a slight contraction of GDP in FY20, the implementation of TFA suggested the adoption of important policy measures that would help the economy to rebound.
“Support for our export-oriented industries and SMEs will facilitate them to increase export earnings and integrate with the international value chains,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Ministry of Commerce secretary said that the ministry was restructuring its WTO wing and reorganising the National Trade Facilitation Committee, earlier called the National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committee.
“It is in line with ReMIT project’s recommendation, so that implementation of TFA commitments is systematically coordinated and monitored, and progress updates are shared with stakeholders and WTO regularly,” he stressed.
Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman underlined that the board was committed to working closely with the commerce ministry, all other regulatory agencies and business community to achieve the TFA implementation targets within the timelines set by the government.
ITC Geneva Chief Trade Facilitation and Policy for Business Dr Muhammad Saeed said trade facilitation had important implications for a country’s export competitiveness. “Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) suffer disproportionately from inefficiencies in customs procedures and other border administration measures,” he pointed out.
National Coordinator and Adviser to ReMIT Project Dr Jawwad Agha said a major outcome of the project was the provision of a platform for consultations among cross-border regulatory agencies in various domains of trade facilitation.
It created a realisation among trade facilitation stakeholders to adopt their roles and responsibilities and play their part in improving cross-border trading environment, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2022.