New Delhi,30th March 2017
The 2nd meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Trade, Commerce and Investment between India and Afghanistan, at the level of Commerce Secretary, which was instituted under the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two countries, was held in a cordial atmosphere on 29-30 March, 2017 in New Delhi. The Indian delegation was led by Ms. Rita Teaotia, Commerce Secretary and the Afghan delegation was headed by Mr Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, Deputy Minister for Commerce, Ministry of Commerce & Industries, Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The two sides had extensive discussions on a variety of issues concerning bilateral trade and economic relations, including transit of goods,business visas, trade in pharmaceutical products and rough gemstones, air freight corridor, customs cooperation etc. Both sides also agreed for further cooperation in different sectors such as renewable energy, power, standards, agriculture, transportation and public health, and discussed opportunities for investments.
It was agreed that the next meeting of the JWG will be held in Kabul at a mutually convenient date.
New Delhi,23rd March 2017
The Commerce & Industry Minister, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman outlined the relevance of facilitating trade in services as has been done in the case of trade in goods. Inaugurating the Workshop facilitating trade in services in New Delhi today she emphasized need for efficient and fair flow of services to promote international trade in services. The Minister said market access is not facilitation but an issue .She said knowledge has become a factor of production and it is important to know how to handle it.
The World Bank Group in partnership with the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India is organizing a two day workshop on issues which need to be addressed to facilitate Trade in Services .
With a view to promote& facilitate international trade in services, India has taken the initiative of floating a draft Legal Text for an Agreement on Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) at the WTO in February 2017, which proposes a way forward on comprehensively addressing the numerous border and behind-the-border barriers, across all modes of supply, which are experienced as impediments by the industry to the realization of the full potential of services trade. Preceding the legal text, India tabled a ‘Concept Note for an Initiative on Trade Facilitation in Services’ in October 2016 followed by an ‘Elements Paper’ proposing the possible elements of the TFS Agreement in November 2016.
The proposals by India have generated a lot of interest, both within and outside the WTO. Many Members have welcomed the novel idea and approach of India in bringing forth this proposal. Some members have also raised concerns on certain issues. India looks forward to engaging in constructive discussion with all stakeholders to take this initiative forward.
It was recognised that this workshop is being held at a very opportune time, when we are increasingly hearing protectionist voices from across the globe. In such critical times, institutions like the World Bank have a special role to play in identifying and propagating fair and equitable practices for promoting free and fair trade.
In this regard, the workshop organized in partnership with the World Bank Group provides an excellent platform in creating awareness as well as brainstorming on the various issues relating to both content and approaches on how to address facilitation of services trade among global experts, academics, private sector, government officials, and industry representatives. The valuable insights received through deliberations in various services over the next two days will be extremely useful in carrying forward the agenda of facilitating trade in services.
New Delhi, March 16TH, 2017
Unfazed by global headwinds and forces of protectionism in some of the leading economies, India is all set to showcase its technological and engineering prowess to top international firms at the 6th edition of the International Engineering Sourcing Show(IESS) at Chennai, expecting significant business deals during the three-day event, beginning March 16.
IESS VI was inaugurated in a gala ceremony on 16th March 2017 in Chennai by Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Commerce & Industry (Independent Charge), Government of India; Shri Denis Manturov, Minister of Trade & Industry, Russian Federation; Shri Girish Shankar, Secretary, Department of Heavy Industry Government of India, Shri Mangat Ram Sharma, Principal Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu, Shri T S Bhasin, Chairman, EEPC India and other senior officials from the Ministry of Commerce & EEPC India.
Prior to the inauguration, Smt Sitharaman and Mr. Manturov had a cordial meeting where a host of bilateral issues were discussed. They agreed that there is enormous potential to enhance the bilateral trade, which is presently US$ 6.62 billion. They discussed the early operationalization of International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that would cut the time and cost for transportation of goods between both countries. They also deliberated upon other measures to enhance the trade ties, including the proposed FTA between India and the Eurasian Economic Union, which includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. The need to finalise a revised Bilateral Investment Treaty was also noted. Smt. Sitharaman also invited Russia to be the ‘Partner Country’ in India International Jewellery Show 2017 scheduled to be held in July 2017 in Mumbai and Advantage Healthcare India scheduled to be held in October 2017 in Delhi / Mumbai.
According to EEPC India, Russia coming forward as the Partner Country in this event is a testimony to the stature achieved by IESS. India has a long standing partnership with Russia in engineering sector. A large 120 member delegation from Russia is exhibiting their technology and products at the IESS 2017.
As many as 400 top global exhibitors and over 500 foreign delegates are participating in this flagship engineering eventwhich is built around the theme – “Smart Tech for Smart Engineering”, Apart from Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the show is also supported by Union Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, Department of Heavy Industry and Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The event has Flanders as the Focus Region and SIDBI as MSME Solutions Partner. This time, IESS is being held at Chennai, the nerve-centre of south India with Tamil Nadu as the host state of the event.
Besides Russia, delegates from USA, UK, Germany, UAE, Brazil, South Africa, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Nepal are also visiting IESS, which has emerged as one of the most prestigious engineering sourcing shows in the country.
On this occasion, EEPC India Chairman said while the engineering exports have started growing again, the growth has come about on a low base which had formed because of sluggish performance in the last few years. “However, despite concerns of protectionism from the USA, the focus of the Trump Administration on big investment on infrastructure projects would boost the global demand for the engineering products. So, instead of seeing it as a challenge, Indian exporters must look the unfolding scenario as an opportunity in the USA”.
This edition of IESS has exclusive Technology and Innovation Pavilions with representations from BARC, IIT Mumbai, IIT Madras, FCRI (Fluid Control Research Institute), ARCI (International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials), CMTI (Central Manufacturing Technology Institute) and MSME Tools Room.
Various activities have been planned during the three-day Show including India-Russia Business Forum, Global Investment Conference, Vendor Development Seminar, by Indian PSUs, Global Sourcing Meets by Siemens, SCHWING Stetter India Pvt Ltd,Yanmar, Kubota Corporation, Sessions on Accreditation, competetivenes of MSMEs, Technology Collaborations, Industrial Design Forums etc.
IESS, across its five previous editions, has left an indelible footprint of success. The fifth edition of IESS, held during 24-26 November 2015 in Mumbai attracted 450 delegates from 55 countries, in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America and 10,000 professional visitors.
India’s engineering exports are likely to reach USD 60+ billion in the fiscal 2016-17, on the back of revival of demand in the USA and for select products like iron. For the April-January period of ten months of the current fiscal, the engineering exports have touched a figure of USD 50.87 billion, exceeding the total shipments of USD 49 billion in the entire financial year of 2015-16. For January, 2017 engineering exports aggregated USD 5.29 billion, showing an increase of over 12 % over the same month last fiscal.
New Delhi, March 16TH, 2017
It gives me great pleasure to be here for the sixth edition of International Engineering Sourcing Show (IESS), the premier export focused event for India’s engineering sector.
We are thankful to Government of Tamil Nadu for being the Host State for this year’s event. This is the first time that the exhibition has been organized outside Mumbai, and reflects the strength of the state in the engineering sector and the tremendous opportunities that it provides for industry.
Russian federation is the Partner Country for this event. We are thankful to Mr Denis Manturov, Hon’ble Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation for leading a high-level 120 member delegation, including dignitaries from various regions of the country.
Minister Manturov and I had a detailed meeting today morning, where we discussed a host of bilateral issues. We agreed that there is enormous potential to enhance the bilateral trade which is presently US$ 6.62 billion. We discussed the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that would cut the time and cost for transportation of goods between both countries. We also deliberated upon other measures to enhance the trade ties, including the proposed FTA between India and the Eurasian Economic Union, which includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Both countries also noted the need to finalise a revised Bilateral Investment Treaty. I have also invited Russia to be the ‘Partner Country’ in India International Jewellery Show 2017 scheduled to be held in July 2017 in Mumbai and Advantage Healthcare India scheduled to be held in October 2017 in Delhi / Mumbai.
Department of Commerce is engaged in a key initiative, with the support of EEPC, for technology upgradation of our engineering manufacturers for boosting exports. This is being attempted by bridging the gap between leading R&D Labs and industry for the development of cutting edge export-oriented technologies. We have identified important industrial clusters, where we are interacting with stakeholders and identifying technology gaps which can be filled by our research labs/academic institutions. The cutting edge technology would then be shared with the industry to enable them to match the best products in the world.
India’s engineering exports are likely to reach USD 60+ billion in fiscal 2016-17, on the back of revival of demand in the USA and for select products like iron. For the April-January period of ten months of the current fiscal, the engineering exports have touched a figure of USD 50.87 billion, exceeding the total shipments of USD 49 billion in the entire financial year of 2015-16. For January, 2017 engineering exports aggregated USD 5.29 billion, showing an increase of over 12 % over the same month last fiscal.
IESS VI spread over an area of 15000 square metres has come up as a flagship event for engineering sourcing in India, with the participation of over 400 exhibitors from India and abroad, and 500 foreign delegates. Along with the exhibition, the event includes thematic sessions and opportunities for bilateral interactions that would provide every participant an excellent platform for generation of ideas and finalizing tie-ups, whether for trade or technology. The event is expected to result in significant business deals for our engineering manufacturers.
I congratulate EEPC India for organizing the IESS VI and thank the Russian delegation for their strong participation at the event.
New Delhi, 15th March 2017
Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) today . Speaking at the event she said the
Scheme is focussed on addressing the needs of the exporters. Smt. Sitharaman said the focus is not just to create infrastructure but to make sure it is professionally run and sustained. The Minister added that there will be an Empowered Committee to periodically review the progress of the approved projects in the Scheme and will take necessary steps to ensure achievement of the objectives of the Scheme. She said the proposals of the implementing agencies for funding will be considered by an inter ministerial Empowered Committee specially constituted for this Scheme to be chaired by the Commerce Secretary. While appraising the project the justification, including the intended benefit in terms of addressing the specific export bottlenecks, would be evaluated.
Commerce Secretary Smt. Rita Teaotia said the scheme would provide assistance for setting up and up-gradation of infrastructure projects with overwhelming export linkages like the Border Haats, Land customs stations, quality testing and certification labs, cold chains, trade promotion centres, dry ports, export warehousing and packaging, SEZs and ports/airports cargo terminuses. She said last and first mile connectivity projects related to export logistics will also be considered.
About TIES- After delinking of the ASIDE Scheme in 2015, the State Governments have been consistently requesting the support of the Centre in creation of export infrastructure. This support is imperative to act as an inducement to the States to channelize funds from their increased devolution towards creation of export infrastructure. The objective of the proposed scheme is to enhance export competitiveness by bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focused export infrastructure, first mile and last mile connectivity for export-oriented projects and addressing quality and certification measures.
The Central and State Agencies, including Export Promotion Councils, Commodities Boards, SEZ Authorities and Apex Trade Bodies recognised under the EXIM policy of Government of India; are eligible for financial support under this scheme.
The Central Government funding will be in the form of grant-in-aid, normally not more than the equity being put in by the implementing agency or 50% of the total equity in the project. (In case of projects located in North Eastern States and Himalayan States including J&K, this grant can be upto 80% of the total equity).The grant in aid shall, normally, be subject to a ceiling of Rs 20 Cr for each infrastructure project.
The implementing agencies shall provide details of the financing tie-ups for the projects which will be considered before approval of the project. Disbursement of funds shall be done after financial closure is achieved.
A bilateral meeting was held on 03-03-2017 in New Delhi between visiting Canadian Minister of International Trade, Mr. François-Philippe Champagne and Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman.
The two Ministers carried forward the discussion from the bilateral meeting held on the side lines of World Economic Forum at Davos in January, 2017. The discussion focussed on expanding bilateral trade and investment between the Countries. Both the Ministers agreed to expedite the conclusion of Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). The Canadian Trade Minister pointed out regarding the interest shown by Canadian Pension Funds in the Indian market and emphasised on the need for FIPA which will provide the required predictability and protection to investments. Addressing the issues of MFN, ratchet, ISDS etc. raised by the Canadian side, the Commerce Minister, Smt. Sitharaman clarified that the negotiation should not get lost in peripheral issues and should focus on bringing in promotion and protection elements, which provide stability and predictability to investments in each other’s country. She said that India has approved the model text as a template and the negotiation under FIPA should go forward in accordance with the model text. However, both sides should remain flexible to incorporate the essential elements of investment protection while negotiating the Agreement.
The Commerce and Industry Minister, Smt. Sitharaman also raised the issue of reforms in the Temporary Foreign Workers Programme (TWFP) which has been made more stringent by Canada and which adversely impacts the services trade from India. She discussed the importance of the ease of movement for intra-company transferees on short term visa for filling in certain crucial and specialized activities. She gave example of a few Indian companies who have made investments in Canada but are finding it difficult to source key employees from India as intra-company transferees. The Canadian Trade Minister assured that a number of steps have been taken to facilitate the ease of movement for professionals into Canada. He described the recent initiative under the Global Skill Strategy Programme wherein the visa application for high skilled technicians, Professors, Researchers etc. will be disposed of within two weeks’ time. Similarly, for professionals visiting for less than a year, a fast track process is being set up which will be similar to a concierge service. This will be extended to companies invested in Canada on a priority basis.
Both the Ministers agreed that the present trade which is in the range of $ 8 billion is much below its potential and there is a need to conclude CEPA in a time bound manner for ensuring higher levels of trade in goods and services. They directed the respective Chief Negotiators on both sides to agree on a time line and conclude it as per the agreed time line.
The Canadian Trade Minister raised the issue of the fumigation requirement for the pulses being imported into India and the need for a resolution to the issue. The Commerce and Industry Minister assured to look into the issue in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture. Smt. Sitharaman also raised the issue of organic equivalence to India’s National Programme on Organic Production (NPOP) by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The Trade Minister from Canada agreed to take up this issue with the Canadian Agriculture Ministry.
Both the Ministers also discussed the potential benefit of business to business interface and, therefore, the importance of CEO Forum to provide the required perspective for improvement in bilateral trade and investment. While the Indian side of the CEO Forum has been reconstituted, the Canadian side will have to reconstitute the Forum. It was agreed by the Trade Minister of Canada to reconstitute the CEO Forum by the end of March. Both the Ministers agreed on ensuring that the business leaders from both sides should meet at the earliest and provide key inputs for furthering our bilateral relationship.
Both sides also agreed for better mutual cooperation on issues of common interest at the International Fora. Both the Ministers resolved to take forward the momentum for enhanced bilateral trade.