What trade facilitation implies
Developed countries have for long been pushing for the inclusion of trade facilitation (TF) in the WTO, a demand that India is opposed to. In 2003, at a meeting organised by the Economic Commission for Europe, India's ambassador, Hardeep S Puri, had explained why TF was best kept out of the WTO. India's stand was roundly supported by other developing countries.
These countries had "valid and legitimate" reasons for following a "staged path to establish an autonomous, sustainable trade management infrastructure", he said. As such, developing countries had the right to "set their own methodology and time frame, within the human and financial resources they can spare and mobilise, adopting best practices as they think fit."
Although the issue was being dealt with multilaterally at the World Customs Organisation, developed countries were successful in bringing it into the WTO, to make compliance mandatory as part of a single undertaking with all its attendant rules on binding obligations. The Doha Development Agenda does not mandate it.
Analysts say this is not in the best interests of developing countries who do not really need to meet the hightech standards that developed countries follow. While compliance with such standards would be cost-free for the rich nations, poor nations would be burdened with additional capital costs that would elbow out the more pressing requirements of developing countries, such as health and education infrastructure. In fact, the loans that are being put together by the World Bank for TF would be an additional burden for developing countries.
India has on its own modernised its ports and other trade infrastructure