Trade and Environment Division of the Ministry is headed by the Economic Adviser working under the supervision of the Senior Adviser, has the following areas of responsibility:
- Provision of technical inputs to the preparatory process in the area of Trade and Environment.
- Formulation of Ministry’s position on trade-related matters referred to it by other Ministries, including views on issues relating to Regional/Bilateral/Multilateral Trade Agreements and other trade-related issues.
- Acting as Nodal Cell within the Ministry to deal with references received from M/o Commerce & Industry.
- Implementation of any on-going Project on Trade and Environment.
- Acting as Export Promotion Cell in the Ministry.
Activities undertaken during the year
The Trade and Environment Division regularly furnished comments and materials from environment, ecology, forestry and wildlife points of view to the Department of Commerce for drawing up India’s position and contributing to the on-going multilateral negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) of the Agreement on the Establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in particular, the negotiations under trade in goods and services and domestic regulations. This included, for instance, assessment of the proposed European Union’s Regulation on Ship Recycling, especially its potential for impact on domestic ship breaking industry. In addition, issues emerging from the lack of availability of data in services which hinders policymaking in the area as well as adversely affects bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations in services were also taken up in the context of environmental services. Certain classification issues relating to environmental services in the context of WTO’s questionnaire on Services are presently under scrutiny.
Economic Adviser (E&F) has been nominated as Official Member of the 2nd Task Force on Transaction Cost in international trade constituted by Minister of Commerce & Industry. The task force is mandated to identify reasons for high transaction cost in exports and compare procedural complexities in exports between India and its major competitors. Further to suggest guidelines/steps to move towards transparent and increasingly paperless processing through digital platform.
The Division has furnished its views on the Draft Cabinet Note on signing Memorandum of Understanding between Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion and South Centre, keeping in view capacity building for climate change mitigation and adaption. It has also commented on Draft Cabinet Note on Expansion India-Chile Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) providing views on sensitive items of imports & exports. As a part of its routine task, the Division has been actively providing talking points to the speeches of Minister of Environment & Forests. One of the speeches is ‘India calling’ conference at Joensuu, Finland on inviting foreign investors to India to invest.
As nodal Cell to deal with references received from M/o Commerce & Industry, Trade & Environment Division examined and supported the Draft Note for the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) on the sub-Scheme for continuation of the Central Sector Plan ‘Indian Leather Development Programme’ during the XII Five Year Plan.
As a new initiative, the Division started compiling a time series data on ‘Environmental Goods Imports & Exports of India’ with the database of Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence & Statistics (DGCI&S), Kolkata to help the stakeholders to know about the status and prospects available in producing environmental goods (Annex-I).
During the year, various regional trade agreements under negotiation by India were examined and Ministry’s contributions were provided, including on the (i) India-Chile PTA; (ii) India-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA); (iii) India-New Zealand FTA; (iv) India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and (v) India-Israel FTA in Environmental services.
In coordination with Economic Cell of the MoEF, the Division has brought out a working paper on the ‘Trade in Environmental Services’. Economic Adviser (E&F) has significantly contributed to the same in order to provide material to Ministry of Finance Quarterly Economic Updates on ‘Service Sector in India’.
On the request received from the Lok Sabha Secretariat for the comments on ‘Expanding Trade through Innovation and the Digital Economy’ for the Annual WTO Forum, 1-3 October, 2013, Geneva, the Division has provided its critical inputs on the ‘Innovation & Trade’ and ‘Green the Economy: What role for innovation’.
The Division also contributed to the ongoing negotiations on various bilateral investment treaties and bilateral investment protection agreements, These include issues such as transfer of environmentally sound technology under bilateral investment agreements to meet India’s environmental requirements, Under the Model Texts of India-US Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection) Agreement (BIPA) in the context of the Indo-US Strategic Dialogue. The Division suggested various environmental measures which were necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health and/or conservation of natural resources.