India will soon come out with a national logistics policy to bring down the cost of logistics to at least below 10 per cent, Commerce and Industry and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal has said.

Addressing the Asia Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum 2019 in the capital, Goyal also said that the Government was on a national effort engaging with Railways, ports, shipping industry, airline industry and roads transport ministry to collectively work on a programme to bringing down the logistics cost.

This Forum, which is in its ninth edition, was held for the first time in India and jointly organised by the Commerce Ministry, ADB, CII and UN-ESCAP. The main focus of the Forum is on how digital and sustainable trade facilitation measures and practices can bring prosperity in the Asia Pacific region. On the occasion, Goyal launched ADB-ESCAP joint publication 'Asia Pacific Trade Facilitation Report 2019' with a theme chapter of 'Bridging Trade Finance Gaps through Technology'.

Goyal said in his address that the implementation of GST in India has shown significant results particularly in terms of bringing down travel time to long distances through road transport with entry points becoming seamless (very few check posts). The efficiency of road transport has caused little bit of stress for the Railways, who are competing with far more efficient road transport system, he said.

Logistics cost

"This is the kind of competitive spirit which will bring down logistics cost and encourage Railways to be far more efficient", Goyal said. Goyal expressed confidence that this collective effort along with more transparency will help bring down logistics costs to more affordable levels and help India's exports become more competitive.

Goyal said that the National committee on trade facilitation -- chaired by the Cabinet Secretary -- is working to make trade facilitation a reality. As many as 76 specific action points on trade facilitation are being monitored at the highest level, he said. Goyal also said that trade facilitation will find an important role in the new free trade agreements that India is currently negotiating and would enter into in the coming days.

He urged industry to come up with the problems on the ground and ask for better facilitation and suggest practical solutions to the problems that they faced. "It will be very difficult for the Government and bureaucrats alone to device the best of mechanisms. Ultimately it is stakeholders on the ground who can best advice us as to how we should move forward. This is a Government that is a listening government", he said.

Open mind

On increasing trade barriers affecting international trade, Goyal said that India was willing to look at them, if any, so as to eliminate or simplify such barriers if they are causing unfair disadvantage to international trade. He highlighted several countries were able to stall India's services exports through trade barriers.

"I believe this will have to be a collective effort both of India and other countries in removing trade barriers. Otherwise the automatic reaction is to do a counter retaliatory measure when countries introduce a tariff barrier. This will worsen the open architecture of free trade that the world is trying to create", he said.