International Trade Current Affairs - 2019

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India to conduct 1st National Time Release Study for faster movement of Cargo

Department of Revenue, under Union Ministry of Finance, is conducting India’s 1st National Time Release Study (TRS) for enabling faster movement of cargo across borders to benefit traders. TRS is an internationally recognized tool advocated by Brussels based World Customs Organization (WCO) to measure efficiency and effectiveness of international trade flows.

National Time Release Study

It is an initiative for accountable governance that will measure rule based and procedural bottlenecks including physical touchpoints in clearance of goods, from time of arrival until physical release of cargo.  It is part of India’s strategic commitment to improve global trade will be conducted between 1- 7 August 2019. However, from now onwards exercise will be institutionalized on an annual basis, during same period every year.

Objective: To identify and address bottlenecks in trade flow process. To take corresponding policy and operational measures required to improve effectiveness and efficiency of border procedures, without compromising efficient trade control.

Expected Beneficiaries: will be export oriented industries and MSMEs (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises) who will enjoy greater standardization of Indian processes with comparable international standards.

Process Followed:

Earlier individual customs formations had been independently conducting TRS studies at port level. However National TRS have evolved a uniform, multi-dimensional methodology which measures regulatory and logistics aspects of cargo clearance process and establishes average release time for goods.

National TRS will have standardized operations and procedures across all ports and will also establish baseline performance measurement. Exercise will be conducted at same time across 15 ports including sea, air, land and dry ports which together accounts for 81% of total Bills of Entries for import and 67% of Shipping Bills for export filed within India.

Based on results of TRS, government agencies associated with cross border trade will be able to diagnose existing and potential bottlenecks which act as barriers to free flow of trade and thus enabling them to take remedial actions for reducing cargo release time. The initiative is on ground lead by Central Board of Indirect Tax and Customs (CBIC).

Benefits:

This initiative will help India maintain upward trajectory on Ease of Doing Business (EDB), particularly on Trading Across Borders indicator which measures efficiency of cross border trade ecosystem (i.e. time and cost associated with logistical process of exporting and importing goods every year). In 2018 India’s ranking on indicator improved from 146 to 80.

Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) not to be ratified by US

US President Donald Trump announced that USA will not abide by and will never ratify Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a UN treaty aimed at regulating global arms trade.

Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)

With aim of regulating international trade in conventional arms (from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships), it was entered into force in 2014. It establishes common standards for international trade of conventional weapons so as to reduce illegal arms trade.

The member nations are required to keep records of international trade of weapons and prohibit cross-border shipments that can be used for human rights violations or attacks on civilians. It was originally signed by 130 countries but currently only 101 have ratified and joined it. India is not a signatory.

Arguments by US

ATT is misguided and is encroachment on US sovereignty. It does not place any restrictions on types or quantities of arms bought, sold, or possessed by states. It also does not impact state’s domestic gun control laws or other firearm ownership policies.