Stand on TFA contrary to India's promise on business: Trade bodies

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With India firm on its Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) stand, top global trade bodies and experts said this policy is quite contrary to the promise made by the new government that it is open for business.

"India's move to disengage from the trade facilitation agreement will confirm the belief of many that India is simply not ready for larger trade-expanding agreements."

"Until this week, it was always possible to argue that India upholds the multilateral obligations it commits to; by next week, however, it may cease to be a statement of fact," said Alyssa Ayres, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, a major American think-tank.

Last week, India told the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it would not sign the TFA unless its concerns on food security are addressed, to which the US expressed its disappointment.

"New Delhi's stance not only puts up a roadblock on global trade, but will effectively halt any efforts to envision a larger ambition for the US-India economic relationship - which badly needs one - by signaling that India at present does not want to stand with the global free and open trading system," Ayers said.

"This is not India against the West but against itself and the world, backing away from the terms of a deal it participated in designing as recently as December," Ayers added.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) said it is rallying its global network to highlight the adverse consequences of missing a first deadline to implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

"The ICC action follows reports that a small number of WTO members, including India, have proposed postponing implementation until negotiations on other aspects of the accords reached in Bali last year are complete," it said.

In a letter published in Financial Times, ICC said it was "deeply concerned" by the course of events at the latest WTO meeting in Geneva.

Harold McGraw, ICC's chairman, and John Danilovich, its secretary-general, said failure to meet the July 31 deadline would mean missing an opportunity to inject much-needed growth into the global economy.

"In Bali last December statesmanship prevailed. It must do so again in Geneva this week. If political posturing proves the short-term victor, we all - businesses, consumers, governments - will lose out in the long run," they said.

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