Pakistan considerably improves implementation of WTO’s TFA

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ISLAMABAD-Pakistan has considerably improved its implementation of World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) from 34% in June, 2018 to 79% in November, 2020, it was stated in a press release by Federal Board of Revenue.

Due to improvement in the implementation of TFA, Pakistan has improved 31 positions in Trading Across Border Index which tangibly contributed to rise of Pakistan (from 136th position to 108th position) in the Global Fund’s Annual Ease of Doing Business 2020 Report. Implementation of WTO’s TFA by Pakistan is greater than regional countries like India and Bangladesh whose implementation rate is 78.2% and 36.1% respectively. Pakistan’s implementation rate is higher than those of average of all WTO members (which is at 65.5%) and the average of all developing countries (which is at 65.2%).

Trade facilitation is an effective driver for stimulating economic activity, attracting foreign direct investment, promoting exports and generating employment. In line with the direction of the Prime Minister to thoroughly facilitate the trade (involved in imports, exports, and transit) for achievement of the strategic objectives of economic and export-led growth, Pakistan Customs, Federal Board of Revenue followed an integrated plan. The Chairman, Federal Board of Revenue specifically designated dedicated project teams under Member (Customs) to ensure implementation of World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Pakistan. The teams worked industriously and all this has resulted in substantial implementation (and compliance with) the TFA and have comprehensively facilitated national / regional / international trade.

Salient TFA reforms/provisions, that have been implemented, are Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) Program, Advance Ruling, Electronic payments, Pre-Arrival Processing, Freedom of Transit, Opportunity to Comment and Information before Entry into Force, Temporary Admission of Goods and Inward and Outward Processing, Risk Management and Post Clearance Audit. According to the WTO, amongst the most difficult-to-implement (and least notified) provisions are Single Window and Border Agency cooperation. Despite it, significant work has been done on these important areas with the help of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and these provisions would be implemented in Pakistan well within timelines.

Implementation of WTO’s TFA by Pakistan is acknowledged worldwide. According to the World Bank, Pakistan has made the top 10 list of governments that have done the most in the past year to improve the ease of doing business in their countries. OECD Trade Facilitation Indicators Data Base (2019) has acknowledged Pakistan’s best performance across the areas under TFA. Moreover, The World Customs Organization (WCO) has stated that “considering the recent advancement of Pakistan Customs administration for proceeding TFA, Pakistan Customs administration is very suitable to be listed in the successful countries.

Pakistan Customs, Federal Board of Revenue is committed to implement the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan not only to transform/upgrade the facilitation level for the trade but also to make Pakistan a regional hub of the trade activities.

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