India has initiated several articles of the trade facilitation (TF) program negotiations of the WTO to improve internal/external orientation of the Indian economy. Still the ones left involve significant costs and require careful planning for implementation.
In this paper, the author takes stock of the needs, priorities and cost of implementation of these articles in India. The paper starts by an overview of the TF framework in India, which provides literature on trade facilitation lists government initiatives and gives an overview of the ongoing capacity building programs.
The author moves on to assess the implementation of articles X, VIII and V of the GAAT. He then discusses the issue of trade facilitation needs and priorities of the private sector in terms of cost of implementation. A survey was conducted for that purpose (results of the survey are displayed in annex 2 along with a questionnaire).
The paper enumerates various cost elements associated with articles VIII and X:which include
equipment and infrastructure.
In order to assess the implications for the WTO negotiations on TF, the paper explains the Indian negotiating position and discusses some areas for capacity building. He points out to certain elements which need to be taken care of before TF related commitments are kept for implementation:
competent and trained manpower
integrated, software programme
infrastructure at transit points
Finally, the author points out to some gray areas at the domestic front where policy attention is required such as clarity about Internet publication of specific information setting forth the procedural sequence and other requirements for importing goods, harmonization of standards for goods and transits and such other measures, both under Article VIII and Article V. He also recommends that the Indian team at the WTO negotiations should:
exhibit extreme caution towards the new proposals and ideas
display pragmatism, at least for the measures that have already been implemented in India
show a greater optimism and pro-active formulation of proposals in light of the considerable advancement at the domestic level