25 Dec 2013

Trade Policy Formulation Needs Coherence: S R Rao

"There is a need to strengthen institutional structures at federal, State and local-levels of Government for formulating a coherent long term vision of India`s trade policy" said Commerce Secretary Shri S R Rao.

 He was inaugurating a two-day round table on future contours of India`s trade policy, organised by the Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade on 17- 18 December, 2013. The round table was organised as a part of year-long golden jubilee celebrations of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. 

Elaborating further, Shri Rao emphasised that the long term vision document should be based on inputs on different variables that could affect trade policy. "It is crucial to identify relevant variables, establish a mechanism for monitoring developments in respect of each variable and inputing the variables in the process of trade policy formulation` added Shri Rao. 

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Surajit Mitra, Director, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), was of the view that India`s trade policy should articulate and project a comprehensive set of national interests which can be pursued on a sustained basis in the long term. "Given the diversity of policy objectives that can be secured through trade policy, it is imperative that the country establishes suitable institutional mechanisms to address this challenge", said Dr. Mitra. 

Delivering the keynote address in the meeting, Dr. Harsha Singh, former deputy director-general of the WTO, was of the view that planning the contours of future trade policy requires approaching it in terms of removing constraints in two different but interlinked domains, one domestic and the other emphasizing opportunities abroad.

"India needs to develop a strategy for transition towards the kinds of regulatory standards and disciplines which reflect the future, such as those encompassed in the policy regimes of the OECD countries”, highlighted Dr. Singh. 

In the absence of a long term comprehensive trade policy, "it is quite possible that other efforts to improve domestic capacities may have limited positive effects and India may be caught unprepared or even unable to maintain present levels of market access for its products", concluded Dr Singh. 

Senior officers of the government involved in trade policy, trade policy experts and trade economists are participating in the round table. 

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