MUMBAI: For the first time in the World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) history, an industry association from India was invited to its meeting, which was held recently on WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), in Brussels, Belgium. WCO invited Mr Samir J. Shah, Chairman, Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI) to this meet to exchange ideas on TFA and initiatives taken by the industry stakeholders in this Country.
Speaking at the WCO meet, Mr Shah maintained that the ongoing initiatives on Trade Facilitation under WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement would change the landscape of export-import industry as well as Customs Broking / Freight Forwarding business across the globe with its very positive impact on Indian foreign trade.
According to him, thanks to new developments/elements in TFA, customs broking business would see a paradigm shift in the days to come. The FFFAI Chairman suggested that both Customs Brokers and Exporters / Importers have to change their mindset and adopt new changes to face the future challenges for their survival and growth.
According to WCO, the TFA has launched a new phase for trade facilitation reforms all over the world and it will create a significant boost for commerce and the multilateral trading system as a whole. TFA seeks to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders. Once the TFA is fully implemented, developing countries are predicted to increase the number of new products exported by as much as 20 per cent, with least developed countries (LDCs) likely to see an increase of up to 35 per cent.
Mr Shah strongly represented the Indian industry perspective and Indian customs brokers/freight forwarders’ active support to TFA. He also highlighted commendable initiatives being taken by the Government of India for trade facilitation in consultation with industry stakeholders.
Later commenting on his experience on the WCO meet, Mr Shah maintained, “Initiatives on Trade Facilitation and emphasis on Compliances are emerging very strongly and quickly. Indian Government is also acting very fast. Now it is industry’s responsibility to react accordingly,” he cautioned. He, however, made it clear that under the new regime of trade facilitation and digitisation, role of customs brokers/freight forwarders would remain equally important.
“Need of the hour is to be well-equipped with domain knowledge, enhancement of skill, transparency, change in mindset and IT efficiency,” the FFFAI Chairman suggested. Mr Shah reiterated FFFAI’s commitment to cooperate with all initiatives of the Government for the greater interest of the Nation’s trade and commerce.
It is worth mentioning that FFFAI is one of the members of the recently constituted National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF), which is headed by the Cabinet Secretary, Government of India. FFFAI is regularly interacting with all relevant Ministries on how to reduce transaction time and costs, build capacity and expedite hassle-free cargo movement. The apex body, FFFAI, is currently consisting of 28 member associations having 6500 members across India.