As WTO’s TFA comes into effect, Nirmala Sitharaman says looking ‘forward to improvement in way we trade’

‘We have submitted a legally-vetted document on TFA on services at WTO in Geneva today which will be discussed on March 14-17,’ Sitharaman said

The World Trade Organization’s trade facilitation agreement (TFA) that has just come into effect will lead to greater movement of goods across countries, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday. “I look forward to rapid improvement in the way in which we trade… The trade facilitation agreement will also lead to reduction in transaction costs,” Sitharaman said. India is also pushing for the inclusion of discussions on a TFA on services at Buenos Aires, Argentina, later this year. It aims to ease movement of skilled professionals across borders as well as reducing transaction costs. “We have submitted a legally-vetted document on TFA on services at WTO in Geneva today which will be discussed on March 14-17,” Sitharaman said. India had last year submitted a concept note on TFA on services, taking the first decisive step towards gathering global consensus on a framework to boost worldwide trade in services.

According to the 164-member organisation, the TFA on goods would simplify trade processes, bring down barriers to trade and also enhance the capacity of the developing world to engage better with the global trading network. India, one of the first countries to ratify it, had also said that it would do the changes such as upgradation, bringing in new facilitation and digitisation from its own fund. “It would be completely provided for through our own budget. All the budgetary announcements are very much in line with all our commitments made on the TFA,” the minister said.

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“I had told the WTO that just like the TFA in goods, which is aimed at relaxing customs rules for smoother trade flow, there is a need for a ‘counterpart agreement’ in services, and that the proposed pact must also ensure special and differential treatment for developing and poor nations, ” she said.

Sitharaman on Snapdeal lay-offs

When asked about e-tailing portal Snapdeal laying off 500-600 employees, Sitharaman said this is not a cause of concern. Churning is on not only in e-commerce but the whole world on account of global economic situation, she said. “This is not peculiar to India,” she added. According to reports, co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal have taken a 100% salary cut.

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