Pro-producer approach is needed to make India’s trade policy more effective: CUTS
August 19, 2011, New Delhi
“India can be a food bowl of the world. All that is required is right investment toward infrastructure development in rural India,” said EMS Natchiappan, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha). He highlighted the importance of a more proactive participation of the state governments in the process of trade policy making.
He was speaking at the final dissemination meeting on Grassroots Reachout and Networking in India on Trade and Economics (GRANITE) project which brought a number of insights to enhance the effectiveness of the foreign trade policy of India in terms of generating new employment opportunities and increasing producer welfare. The meeting held in New Delhi on 19th August was attended by more than 30 stakeholders from different parts of India. The project was supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi and Oxfam India.
Welcoming the participants, Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International, praised the initiatives of the government in mainstreaming trade into national development. He highlighted that lack of awareness of about the functioning of our trade policy is acting as a bottleneck at the grassroots. Therefore, enhancing economic literacy among the grassroots civil society and elected representatives of local government institutions was one of the major objectives of this project. He advocated for a consensus based approach towards policy making and an active involvement of multiple stakeholders in policy implementation.
Professor Anwarul Hoda of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations discussed the importance of physical and social infrastructure in realising the goals of the foreign trade policy. He argued for a separate policy on physical and social infrastructure development independent of the foreign trade policy as it will serve a larger purpose of catalysing economic development and cannot be limited to only export promoting sectors. He also pointed out the importance of educating small and marginal producers about international standards like the issue of traceability in agricultural products and diffusion of knowledge of global best practices.
Eva Brathholm, Head of Political and Economic Affairs in the Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi underlined the growing importance of India in the geo-political arena and discussed new developments in economic and trade relations between Norway and India such as the signing of double taxation avoidance treaty and the rapid progress made in negotiating a free trade agreement between India and the European Free Trade Area. She praised the efforts of the GRANITE project for its advocacy for a more decentralised and bottom-up approach toward trade policy making.
A detailed presentation on the implementation of the project and its recommendations to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade of India was made by Bipul Chatterjee, Deputy Executive Director, CUTS International. Among others, it recommended that the Inter-State Trade Council should be revived so that state governments can play a more active role in mainstreaming trade into national development. It also urged the Directorate General of Foreign Trade of India to conduct periodic impact assessment of the implementation of India’s trade policy in terms of economic, social and environmental sustainability.
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