New Delhi,31st May 2017
In accordance with the Government of India’s policy to introduce online Annual Performance Appraisal Report (APAR) for Group ‘A’ services, Smt. Rita Teotia,Commerce Secretary launched the SPARROW-ITS (Smart Performance Appraisal Report Recording Online Window) today, to enable the Indian Trade Service (ITS) officers to fill their APAR online for the year 2016-17 onwards. The event was attended by Sh. Ajay Bhalla, DGFT and othet senior officers of DGFT.
The APARs would be generated and transmitted online to the concerned officers for filling up of the self appraisal. The officer can then submit the self appraisal online through Digitally Signed Signature (DSC) or through E-sign. The subsequent processes of reporting and reviewing would also be done online by the Reporting and Reviewing Officer by using DSC or E-sign. The timelines have been drawn up for each stage of the process. The entire process of filling up of APAR would have to be completed by 31st December and no remarks can be added after that date.
The very idea of switch over from manual to online system is to ensure ready access of APAR dossier by the authorized users, preventing loss of APARs in transition, address the issues of ante-dating, remarks recorded by the Reporting Authorities without dates, etc. Above all, it brings in transparency into the APAR management system. This would, in turn, ensure that the APAR dossiers arereadily available for promotions at various levels which used to get delayed for want of updated APARs. This is another step towards Digital India in the government, where various administrative processes are being moved to IT platform leading to transparency and ease of administration. The 150 officers of ITSwould, thus, get benefited by timely promotions and all other benefits dependent upon the evaluation of their APARs.
New Delhi, 23rd May 2017
Commerce Secretary, Ms. Rita Teaotia led an official and a business delegation to Ecuador and Colombia from 16th to 19th May, 2017.
In Ecuador, she held bilateral meetings with Minister of Commerce of Ecuador, Mr. Juan Carlos Cassinelli and discussed bilateral trade and investment relations.
A meeting with the Industry representatives of both sides was also held which was attended by Commerce Secretary and Mr. Juan Carlos. From Indian side companies representing sectors like Pharma, IT, Auto, Mining & construction, Bio Fuels, Agro-Chemicals, Iron & Steel and Textiles and FICCI representatives were present. From Ecuador side Pro Ecuador and their business reprentatives participated in the meeting.
During the visit, Commerce Secretary co-chaired the First Meeting of the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO). From the Ecuador side meeting was co- chaired by the Vice Minister of Trade, Integration and Trade Remedies, Dr. Humberto Jiménez.
Both India and Ecuador agreed to take actions to boost their bilateral relations in order to promote a growing and balanced trade in potential sectors.
Bilateral trade with Ecuador stood at US $ 716 million with exports US$ 153.20 million and import US $ 563.77 million during 2015-16. Ecuador conveyed its interest in initiating the process of negotiations for a Preferential Trade Agreement in order to strengthen the bilateral relationship for mutual benefit.
Both sides also agreed to deepen the cooperation between their respective investment promotion agencies in order to promote a greater exchange of information on investment and business opportunities in both countries.
In Colombia, she held a bilateral meeting with Mr. Francisco Echeverri Lara, Vice–Minister Multilateral Affairs, at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bogota and discussed on bilateral trade and investment relations.
She co-chaired the 3rd Meeting of the Joint Committee for India Colombia Business Development Cooperation. From the Colombian side the meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Javier Humberto Gamboa Benavides, Vice Minister of Commerce from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Government of Colombia.
Both sides expressed their commitment to explore different areas to work jointly aiming at sectors of mutual interest benefitting the current economic situations of both countries. Sectors like telecommunication, infrastructure development, metals, hydrocarbons, information technology & industrial technology, pharmaceuticals, bio-technology products, chemicals, textiles, two wheelers, automobiles & auto-parts, mining of coal, gems &jewellery, minerals, machineries, non-conventional energy, etc. have great promise for developing commercial relations between the two countries.
India’s bilateral trade with Colombia stood at US$ 1695.89 with exports US$888.11 million and imports US$ 807.79 million during 2015-16.
As Colombia is exploring to diversify its export basket they have shown interest for cooperation in sectors of Agriculture and Food Processing. Major export commodities of Colombia include petroleum, coal, emeralds, coffee, nickel, cut flowers, bananas and apparel.
A meeting with the industry representatives of both countries was also held to discuss business opportunities, which was addressed by Commerce Secretary. She urged the business houses to explore the huge potential that both countries have to offer and take advantage of the trade complementarities.
New Delhi,23rd May 2017
Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman led the Indian delegation to the 3rd RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting on 21-22 May 2017 in Hanoi in which Trade Ministers of 15 other RCEP countries participated. Trade Minister and Industry Minister of Philippines Mr Ramon Lopez, was the Chair of the Meeting as Philippines is currently holding the Presidency of ASEAN this year and Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, Mr Tran Tuan Anh, as the host extended a warm welcome to the delegates.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a mega regional free trade agreement being negotiated amongst 16 countries, comprising 10 ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) plus six ASEAN FTA partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. So far 4 Ministerial Meetings, 3 Inter-sessional Ministerial Meetings and 18 Rounds of the Trade Negotiating Committee at the technical level have been held.
At the working dinner on 21st May the Minister’s exchanged views on global economic developments, particularly in the area of trade, and stressed the need for the RCEP fraternity to remain guarded and united against recent protectionist trends and be supportive of inclusive trade policies for the greater good and prosperity of the people of the region. They recognized the importance of RCEP in this context. On day 2, 22nd May, Mr. Pak Iman Pambagyo, the Chair of the Trade Negotiating Committee Leads made a presentation on the state of play of RCEP negotiations and sought ministerial guidance on pending issues for taking forward the negotiations.
The Ministers’ took stock of the state of negotiations across the various negotiating groups and sub-working groups, particularly in the area of goods, services and investment. It was noted that while considerable progress had been made, several areas still required to be negotiated to finality. India and some other countries stressed the need to arrive at a comprehensive and balanced agreement across the three key pillars of goods, services and investment, that reconciled the need for high ambition and forward looking rules and procedures, with the sensitivities and level of development of various participating countries. It was appreciated that countries have varying profiles in terms of their strengths and aspirations, and sensitivities, which would vary across countries. The comfort with countries with whom a country already had FTAs was of an entirely different order, as compared to countries with whom there may be trade deficits and no such agreement.
Conscious of this position, participating countries were attempting to move towards negotiating around the next round of offers and requests in goods to achieve the maximum ambition possible, while balancing sensitivities through suitable mechanisms like staging periods and line exceptions.
In Services also countries are in the process of submitting their next round of offers to similarly negotiate a mutually beneficial outcome. CIM underlined the importance of Services for realizing the full potential of RCEP that recognized the varying areas of strength and comparative advantage of participating countries, and allowed countries to balance sacrifices and gains. She urged member countries to work towards liberalization across all modes of Services, including movement of professionals in Mode 4, in line with the RCEP Guiding Principles that seek to build on ASEAN +1 FTAs in a manner consistent with GATS principles. On Mode 4, Movement of Natural Persons (MNP) and RCEP Travel Card India strongly emphasized its position, and the importance of these areas in facilitating temporary movement of professionals to achieve the full potential of the forward and modern looking regional integration that was being envisaged. She stressed that temporary movement of professionals for activities like installation, trouble shooting, training, maintenance, investment management etc., not to be confused with immigration, was essential across the entire dimension of good and services trade, and investment. CIM pointed out that a selective approach to the detriment of Services would not be in the best interest of RCEP negotiations, and would be failing to acknowledge, promote and protect the strength and mutually beneficial nature of the current relationship, where Indian companies with limited expatriate presence had created over 100,000 local jobs in the RCEP countries, apart from cost saving and enhanced competitiveness.
In Investments, the reservation lists submitted by all countries will be analyzed from their commercial meaningfulness. CIM maintained that India’s position that suitable arrangements in the area of Investor State Dispute Settlement were critical to finalization of the investment negotiations.
RCEP Trade Ministers have urged TNCs to deliberate on these issues further at the next 19th Hyderabad Round scheduled to be held from 18-28 July 2017. India will be seeking a balanced outcome in RCEP with equivalent and balanced ambition across all Chapters and on the principle of Single of Undertaking.
New Delhi, May 18, 2017
Commerce and Industry Minister Smt.Nirmala Sitharaman has condoled the passing away of Environment Minister, Shri Anil Madhav Dave.
‘Shocked to hear Shri Anil Dave is no more. A passionate conservationist,remarkably documented the Narmada. Will miss his presence in the Rajya Sabha.’
‘Shri Anil Dave moved from being a commercial pilot to become a pracharak of the RSS. Benefitted by his observations & humour in the Rajya Sabha’
New Delhi, 14th May, 2017
India and Chile have entered into another milestone in their trade relations as an agreement on expansion of India-Chile PTA which was signed on 6th September, 2016 is finally being implemented on 16th May, 2017. The Union Cabinet had approved the expansion of PTA in April, 2016.
The expanded PTA would immensely benefit both sides as a wide array of concessions has been offered by both sides on a number of tariff lines which will facilitate more two way trade.
India and Chile had earlier signed a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) on March 8, 2006 which came into force with effect from August, 2007. The original PTA had a limited number of tariff lines wherein both sides had extended tariff concessions to each other. India’s offer list to Chile consisted of only 178 tariff lines whereas Chile’s offer list to India contained 296 tariff lines at 8-digit level.
The expanded PTA has a wider coverage wherein Chile has offered concessions to India on 1798 tariff lines with Margin of Preference (MoP) ranging from 30%-100% and India has offered concessions to Chile on 1031 tariff lines at 8-digit level with MoP ranging from 10%-100%. These tariff lines were based on HS 2012 when the negotiations had been concluded. With the implementation of the HS 2017 Nomenclature with effect from 1st January, 2017, both sides have aligned their Annexes on India’s Schedule of Tariff Concessions, Chile’s Schedule of Tariff Concessions and the Schedule on Rules of Origin as per HS 2017 Nomenclature for issue of Notification. This would facilitate exporters of both sides to take the advantage of tariff concessions as per the expanded PTA immediately which covers around 96% of bilateral trade.
Chile is the fourth largest trading partner of India in LAC region after Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina. India’s bilateral trade has grown substantially to reach a level of US$ 3,646.45 million during 2014-15 as compared to US$ 2,655.35 million in 2011-12 as per the Department of Commerce statistics. However, during year 2015-16, bilateral trade declined by (-) 27.60% and stood at US$ 2,639.99 million with exports US$ 679.32 million and imports US$ 1,960.67 million. The decline in bilateral trade was due to extraneous reasons such as fall in prices of crude oil and international commodities. During the last few years, bilateral trade has been in favour of Chile because of import of high volume of copper ore which constitute more than 88% of the imports from Chile.
India’s exports to Chile are diverse which consist of transport equipment, drugs and pharmaceuticals, yarn of polyester fibres, tyres and tubes, manufacture of metals, articles of apparel, organic/inorganic and agro chemicals, textiles, readymade garments, plastic goods, leather products, engineering goods, imitation jewellery, sports goods and handicrafts. Major items of Import from Chile are copper ore and concentrates, iodine, copper anodes, copper cathodes, molybdenum ores & concentrates, lithium carbonates & oxide, metal scrap, inorganic chemicals, pulp & waste paper, fruits & nuts excluding cashews, fertilizers and machinery.
Keeping in view that Chile is the founding member of the Pacific Alliance to which India is an Observer Member, implementing the expanded PTA could deepen its engagement with the emerging trade bloc.
New Delhi, May 12th 2017.
19th Session of India-Italy Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation was held during 11th – 12th May, 2017 in Rome. The Joint Commission was co-chaired by the Minister of Economic Development Mr. Carlo Calenda from the Italian side and by the Minister of Commerce and Industry Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman from the Indian side.
Both Sides reiterated the importance of the JCEC towards the development of bilateral economic and trade relations through facilitating dialogue and enhancing cooperation on a wide range of issues of mutual interest.
India’s bilateral trade with Italy during 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 was US$ 9.32 billion, US$ 8.28 billion and US$ 8.80 billion respectively. Bilateral trade during the last three years has remained stable despite global slowdown.
Besides the JCEC, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, also had bilateral meetings with Mr. Paolo Gentiloni, Prime Minister of Italy and Mr. Carlo Calenda, Minister for Economic Development, Government of Italy.
New Delhi, 6th May 2017
Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the revised Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) would be released early to synchronise the same with roll out of GST. The core focus of the revised FTP would be promoting exports from the SMEs and high employment potential sectors. Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman was chairing a meeting on the Mid-Term review of the Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 organised jointly by Department of Commerce and Research and Information System for the Developing Countries (RIS) .
Commerce Secretary Ms Rita Teaotia, Chairman RIS Shri Hardeep Singh Puri and DGFT Shri Ajay Bhalla also participated in discussions. The event was attended by the trade policy experts from the industry, academia, Research and Government .
Major suggestions discussed during the deliberations related to promoting Rupee Trade, facilitating not only exports but also imports and reducing cost of credit. Participant recommended harnessing the high foreign exchange earnings and large employment generation potential of services related to the Tourism, Education and Health sector. Such services fall under the WTO category of the Mode 2 Services, also called the ‘Consumption Abroad’ category. It was emphasised that promotion of mode2 in services sector shall contribute in domestic economic development and job creation.
Concerns were also raised on issues relating to GST and its impact on export. Minister said that Department of Commerce has already taken up these issues with Department of Revenue, and assured that it will again take up theses issues With DoR for placing it before GST council to find a solution.
Critical role of Logistics sector for export competitiveness was also discussed;, reducing the cost of credit in promoting exports, export basket diversification, strategy for promoting value added exports, agriculture exports and services exports were also deliberated.
It may be noted that while announcing the five year FTP, 2015-2020 on 01.04.2015, Hon’ble Commerce & Industry Minister had announced that the policy would be reviewed on mid-term basis. The exercise has been initiated by Department of commerce in January 2017. DGFT has held consultation with a cross section of stakeholders.- Exporters, Traders, Export promotion Councils, Commodity Boards, Various Ministries of the Central Govt., State Governments, foreign missions of India and Industry Bodies- in this regard.
New Delhi, 1st May 2017
Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has said that India should take lead in making quality products available to world at an affordable price. Inaugurating the 4th National Standards Conclave organized by the Department of Commerce in association with CII, BIS, EIC, FSSAI, APEDA and NABCB she emphasized while standards as signifying quality are important but they also need to be affordable for manufacturers to comply and consumers to buy. She said Prime Minister’s ‘Zero Effect Zero Defect’ idea aims at exactly this. She cited The Mangalyan launch costing and worldclass quality is a prime example of quality with affordability.
Commerce and Industry Minister appreciated that a ‘standards strategy document’ is going to be the possible outcome of this conclave however, she emphasised that long term strategy should not lose sight of immediate challenges. Smt. Sitharaman stated that any national strategy for standards should be able to factor in technology to disseminate any change in import requirements in foreign countries so that our exporters are well prepared to overcome those barriers. This dissemination has to be in regional languages. She said this has become critical as number of notifications in WTO have increased and many deal with standards .
The Minister highlighted the issues confronting agriculture sector, where the nature of standards set in international bodies often militate against the Indian varieties. She stressed that International standards especially in food produce must value variety over homogeneity and India must participate actively in such Standards setting. When Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) controls are put on agro products, like mango or grapes unilaterally, they hurt our farmers. Similarly, the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) of certain pesticides or biocides are altered too quickly in the foreign markets and farmers are taken by surprise. So, efforts must be put to create quick information system for such farmers and exporters. She hoped that the proposed strategy would provide a guide or a kind of framework so that we avoid such crises at negotiation stage it self.
The Minister also launched the India Standards Portal – a one stop portal for all information on Standards, Technical Regulations, conformity assessment & accreditation practices, and the related bodies in India and adivsed that portal should also help exporters to identify regulations in various countries abroad.
In his address, Mr. R V Deshpande, Minister for Large and Medium Industries and Infrastructure Development, Government of Karnataka, highlighted the strategy adopted by his state to put in place a robust standards eco system. These include besides providing incentives to the industrial units adopting standards, insistience on procurement of products and services which conform to the standards, ensuring infrastructure is available in the state and focus on Research and Development.
Ms. Rita Teaotia, Secretary, Department of Commerce highlighted the legislative reforms that have been happening as a result of series of national and regional Conclaves. She stated that since the last edition of the Conclave, the new BIS Act had been passed and the Consumer Protection Act is also proposed to include a new chapter on Product Liability. This would help strengthen the standards ecosystem in the country. She also noted that for the first time, standards in the services sector were getting attention. She suggested that there was a need to develop a National Strategy for Standards as well as Vision Document for the same.
Ms. Alka Panda, Director General, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) highlighted the role that the BIS was playing in the development of standards in the country. Mr. Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman, Quality Council of India stated that there was a need to work with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to help improve their standards. He also spoke of the need to create a standards compliance system which was easy to comply with and emphasized that standards should be seen as an opportunity rather than as a threat.
Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal, President Designate, and Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General of CII also spoke in the inaugral affirming Industries’ commitment to graduate to a high Standards regieme in the country.
Mr. Sudhanshu Pandey, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry proposed the Vote of Thanks.