Workshop on WTO –related issues for Government Officials in the SAARC region Bhutan and Trade Facilitation New Delhi, 1st -3rd May 2006 Pema R. Rinchen Department of Foreign Trade
Country Profile • Acceding member to the WTO • Landlocked and LDC – Article V • Agrarian economy – high value low volume exports • Growing trade and services sector (issue of being more trade facilitative than revenue oriented) • Manufacturing - 18% • Trade and Transport - 17% • Tourism and Hydro power driven economy
Trade Facilitation (TF) and Bhutan • TF an integral part of TP under 9FYP where enhancement/contribution of trade to social and economic development can be brought about • TF an area where we believe that DC stand to gain in terms of enhancing competitiveness • TF going beyond helping exporters/importers to become more competitive. Help entire communities by improving the conditions for doing business, attracting investment and creating employment • Recent WB findings highlight issue of TF as a major boost to pvt. sector competitiveness and a backward linkage of ind. dev to export trade. • Global integration to WTO – opportunity to seek binding international assistance to address constraints to improve competitiveness • Regional Integration – SAFTA, BIMSTEC
Reference to WTO TF articlesand Measures undertaken • Article V: negotiations offer landlocked countries a valuable opportunity to deal with pressing transit issues in an objective multilateral forum. Intend to take good adv. of this opportunity and participate in the discussions. Highlight a number of key neg. issues aimed at improving Article V: • Dry port facilities • Air, sea, rail, road transit….extend to pipelines, power • Reasonable charges • E-clearance
Article VIII - Import and Export Related Fees and Formalities • Streamline formalities • Synchronize timing of operations (customs clearance at the borders) • Cost of procedures • Clearance automation to reduce discretion • Quarantine, SPS rules transparency • Analysis and inspection
Article X – Publication and Administration of Trade Regulations • Enhance transparency – websites, docs. • Publication of regulations and laws before implementation of higher duties and more restrictive measures • Customs valuation (acceptance of docs.) • Single national focal point to respond to traders enquiries • Establishment of inquiry point to giving advance notice.
Ongoing efforts towards TF in addition…. • Development of physical infrastructure – provision of multimodal transport facilities • RTA’s (transit agreements with India, Bangladesh), SAARC agreement on Customs matters, Regional initiative in area HR, Accreditation, Standards, TF amongst the SAFTA and BIMSTEC • Customs work – adoption of harmonized customs codes and Implementation of automation (ASCUDA)
Challenges Ahead • Geo politics – inhibits the development of an effective intra regional multimodal transport arrangements along the trade transit corridors • Border crossing – right synergy missing and poor infrastructure facilities (transport vehicles, limited human and financial resources) • Integrity of customs officials at the trade corridor borders – adds to the costs, delay and opportunity • Absence of a single window clearance – supply side constraints to be improved
Challenges ahead • TF program require long term vision and efforts to build capacity, to develop and implement policies/strategies and integrate international conventions/standards, measures and other trade specific tools into the national systems.
Conclusion • Limited experience from the private sector perspective – importance of Govt. and Pvt. Sector joining forces to help streamline and bring about predictability/build measures that will set the basis for stronger, more competitive business • Learn from experiences through dialogue and meetings • Network set up to exchange views and experiences amongst the key players