Shri Pandey said the main challenge for Customs today is to create a convergence of facilitation and implementation. The use of digitization and technology for non-intrusive operations is essential for the establishment of a digitally activated computer customs service. The Secretary noted that the WCO is at the forefront of the use of digital technologies and stated that the WCO`s response to the use of new technologies, such as blockchain and big data, should remain proactive. The government`s adoption of the Trade Facilitation Action Plan proposed by the National Committee for Trade Facilitation (NCTF), which is to be implemented at the highest level, proves that the Indian government aims to improve trade facilitation. But when the third RCEP summit was held in Bangkok in November 2019, there was not a single visible constituency in India that supported the agreement – neither the farmer nor the producer. The Swadeshi Jagran Manch, the social organization`s economic partner, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and the current BJP government, a staunch activist who prefers autonomy and opposes economic imperialism, announced a 10-day national demonstration. Farmers` associations, such as the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), have held several demonstrations across the country. Even India`s largest industrial chamber, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), opposed the signing of the free trade agreement. WCO Council President Enrique Canon said the meeting will discuss the future of customs, trade and therefore the world and will try to reach an agreement.
In terms of the importance of keeping pace with change, Canon said technology is the most important change that is taking place; If customs and WCO don`t follow, the people of the world will suffer. He said he was confident that WCO will be able to meet the challenge and find the best solutions for an ever-changing world. In a media interview following the opening session, CBIC President Shri S. Ramesh said WCO was a representative body of 180 customs administrations representing more than 90% of world trade. India is an integral member of the organization. The 33 countries present at the meeting represent the 180 countries. He said that India has the unique privilege of hosting the 80th meeting of the political committee, especially since India is currently the Vice-President of the Asia-Pacific region. Recalling the improvement of India`s “cross-border” parameter in the World Bank`s Ease of Doing Business Rankings, the President said that the formulation of the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan and the Trade Facilitation Committee, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, showed the Indian government`s commitment to promoting trade facilitation.