Ease of doing business Current Affairs - 2019
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The Union Government released the 76 point National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP). It was released by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi.
The NTFAP has been adopted by the National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF), reflecting Government’s commitment to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
Aims of the action plan: Transform cross border clearance ecosystem through efficient, transparent, risk based, co-ordinated, digital, seamless and technology driven procedures supported by state-of-the-art sea ports, airports and land borders.
Objectives of the action plan: Achieve improvement in ease of doing business by reduction in cargo release time and cost, transparent and predictable legal regime, move towards paperless regulatory environment and improved investment climate through better infrastructure.
Activities listed in the Action Plan: It lists out specific activities which would be carried out by all regulatory agencies like Customs, Drug Controller, Plant Quarantine, FSSAI, DGFT etc. in time bound manner. The co-ordination among all the stakeholders is the key to achieve the objective of Trade facilitation.
It not only covers the activities coming under the TFA but also goes beyond the ambit of TFA, defined as TFA Plus category. It covers many activities in the areas of infrastructure augmentation, particularly the road and rail infrastructures leading to ports, airports, Land Customs stations, ICDs that cuts across all stakeholders for which various ministries like Civil Aviation, Shipping, Railways, Home Affairs, Road transport and Highways, Finance, Commerce etc have been assigned specified targets. All actions falling under the plan have been categorised by prioritising the activities into short term, mid-term and long-term activities.
Monitoring of the plan: The plan will be monitored by the Steering Committee (the operational arm of the NCTF) chaired by the Revenue Secretary and the Commerce Secretary. Further it will be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary.
Earlier in August 2016, the Union Government had constituted NCTF headed by the Cabinet Secretary in accordance with Article 23.2 of the WTO-TFA. It comprises stakeholders from the Government and the private sectors including trade community. It is headed by Cabinet Secretary.
India and European Union (EU) have established Investment Facilitation Mechanism (IFM) for EU Investments in India. The mechanism will allow for a close coordination between EU and India with an aim to promote and facilitate EU investment in India.
Trade and Investment are key elements of the EU-India Strategic Partnership launched in 2004. The EU is the India’s first trade partner in goods and services and also largest foreign investor with a stock exceeding US$ 81.52 billion as of March 2017. There are more than 6,000 EU companies currently present in India, providing direct and indirect employment to over 6 million people. The IFM builds on the Joint Statement of the 13th EU-India Summit held in Brussels in March 2016, where the EU had welcomed India’s readiness to establish such a mechanism.
The key objective of IFM is to pave the way for identifying and solving problems faced by EU companies and investors with regard to their operations in India. It will cover both new investors as well as those already present in India. It will also serve as a common platform for discussing general suggestions from the point of view of EU investors and companies with regard to ease of doing business in India.
Invest India, the official Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India, will also be part of the mechanism. It will create a single-window entry point for EU companies that need assistance for their investments at the central/state level. The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry will also facilitate participation of other relevant ministries and authorities on a case-to-case basis.
Under it, the EU Delegation to India and DIPP will hold regular high level meetings to assess and facilitate “ease of doing business” for EU investors in India. It will also include identifying and putting in place solutions to procedural impediments faced by EU companies and investors in establishing or running their operations in India.
The establishment of the IFM is considered as a right step in the direction of strengthening the trade and investment ties between the EU and India. This initiative will help ensuring a more robust, effective and predictable business environment for the EU investors.