NEW DELHI : Central Government has released Year end review 2023 for Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Foreign Trade Policy 2023
Foreign Trade Policy 2023 (FTP 2023) was launched on 31st March 2023 in New Delhi by the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal. The Key Approach to the policy is based on these 4 pillars: (i) Incentive to Remission, (ii) Export promotion through collaboration – Exporters, States, Districts, Indian Missions, (iii) Ease of doing business, reduction in transaction cost and e-initiatives and (iv) Emerging Areas – E-Commerce Developing Districts as Export Hubs and streamlining SCOMET policy. It focuses on emerging areas like dual use high end technology items under SCOMET, facilitating e-commerce export, collaborating with States and Districts for export promotion. The new FTP is introducing a one-time Amnesty Scheme for exporters to close the old pending authorizations and start afresh. The FTP 2023 encourages recognition of new towns through “Towns of Export Excellence Scheme” and exporters through “Status Holder Scheme”.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry implemented the Advance Authorisation Scheme under the FTP 2023, which allows duty-free import of inputs for export purposes. To make the norms fixation process more efficient, the DGFT has created a user-friendly and searchable database of Ad-hoc Norms fixed in the previous years. These norms can be used by any exporter without requiring a Norms Committee review as outlined in the FTP 2023.
An initiative to issue system based automatic ‘Status Holder’ certificates under FTP 2023 was launched on 9th October 2023. Now the exporter will not be required to apply to the office of DGFT for a Status Certificate and the export recognition will be provided by the IT system based on available Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS) merchandise export electronic data and other risk parameters. This perspective is a paradigm shift in doing things as it not only reduces compliance burden and promotes ease of doing business but also recognizes the need and importance of collaboration within the Government. The Status Holder certification program provides credibility to the Indian exporters in the international markets. In addition, it provides certain other privileges including simplified procedures under FTP 2023 and priority custom clearances on self-declaration basis, exemption from compulsory negotiation of documents through banks, exemption from filing Bank Guarantee for FTP schemes etc.
The G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting (TIMM) was held in Jaipur on 24th and 25th August, 2023. The meeting was led by the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry. Under India’s Presidency, the G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial reached a groundbreaking consensus on five concrete and action-oriented deliverables which have been adopted in the Outcome Document.
The first one being adoption of High-Level Principles on digitalization of trade documents wherein the G20 Ministers have enunciated 10 broad principles that comprehensively cover various dimensions of an effective transition to paperless trade. These principles will provide guidance to the countries in implementing measures related to the cross-border exchange of electronic trade-related data and documents, emphasizing the need for a secure interoperable and transparent paperless cross-border trade environment.
G20 Ministers also issued a Jaipur Call for Action for enhancing access to information for MSMEs. The Ministers called upon the International Trade Center (ITC), Geneva to work on a detailed implementation plan, in consultation with UNCTAD and WTO, for upgradation of ITC’s Global Trade Helpdesk which would address the informational gaps faced by MSMEs.
The Ministers also endorsed a G20 Generic Mapping Framework for Global Value Chains (GVCs) which contained key building blocks of data, analysis, and representation of GVC data. The framework also advocated to identify key dimensions to help evaluate the resilience of GVCs both at the sectoral and product levels. Moreover, guiding principles for collaboration to address the need for keeping critical GVCs resilient and robust were also enunciated in the framework.
G20 Ministers welcomed the voluntary sharing of best practices on Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) for professional services and supported the development of a Presidency’s Compendium of best practices on MRAs for Professional Services.
G20 Ministers acknowledged the importance of mutual dialogues to reduce regulatory divergences and associated trade costs and also to prevent unnecessary trade frictions, monitor trade and investment-related measures and solve existing irritants. G20 Ministers welcomed the Presidency’s suggestion to hold a G20 Standards Dialogue in 2023 that will bring together members, policymakers, regulators, standard-setting bodies and other stakeholders to discuss topics of common interest such as good regulatory practices and standards.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi dedicated to nation the International Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre (IECC) complex at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi on 26th July 2023 and urged the nation to move ahead with the principle of ‘Think Big, Dream Big, Act Big’. The complex has been named, ‘Bharat Mandapam’. Prime Minister also unveiled the G-20 coin and G-20 stamp at the grand opening ceremony and participated in the naming ceremony of the Convention Centre. Developed as a national project at a cost of about Rs 2700 crores, the new Convention Complex will help showcase and promote India as a global business destination.
India and the United States held the 13th Ministerial-level meeting of India – United States Trade Policy Forum (TPF) in Washington, DC, on 11th January 2023. Union Minister of Commerce and Industry and the U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador co-chaired the meeting. The Ministers launched a new working group on “Resilient Trade” to deepen bilateral dialogue on a range of issues that can enhance the resiliency and sustainability of the trade relationship by strengthening resilience in global supply chains, especially in the critical sectors.
Several rounds of meetings were held this year to resolve all the seven ongoing disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO) between India and USA. Six disputes were resolved during the visit of the Prime Minister to USA in June 2023 and last one was resolved in September 2023 during visit of the President of the United States for G20 Summit.
The India-US Commercial Dialogue meeting held on 10th March 2023 in New Delhi was co-chaired by the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry and US Secretary of Commerce. One of the major outcomes was signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on establishing semiconductor supply chain and innovation partnership facilitating a collaborative mechanism between the two governments on Semiconductor Supply chain resiliency and diversification in view of US’s CHIPS and Science Act and India’s Semiconductor Mission. An MoU on “Enhancing Innovation Ecosystems through an Innovation Handshake” was signed between the two countries on the 14th of November 2023 in San Francisco to further strengthen start-up ecosystems of both countries. The leaders’ Joint Statement during the historic official State Visit of Prime Minister in June 2023 announced the establishment of the “Innovation Handshake”.
India and UAE successfully held the 1st Meeting of the Joint Committee (JC) of the India-UAE CEPA from 11th -12th June 2023 in New Delhi. During the JC, both sides, inter-alia, reviewed the bilateral trade under the CEPA, agreed to operationalize the established committees/sub-committees/technical council under the CEPA, agreed on mutual exchange of preferential trade data on quarterly basis for effective monitoring of the CEPA, discussed various matters related to the implementation of the Agreement and agreed on addressing any issue that may potentially act as a hindrance to CEPA implementation or its usage by businesses on both sides, agreed on creation of a new sub-committee on Trade in Services, and also agreed to set-up a UAE-India CEPA Council (UICC) as a B2B collaboration mechanism, with a focus on MSMEs and start-ups, for building greater economic linkages and optimizing CEPA benefits.
The 11th meeting of the UAE-India High Level Joint Task Force on Investments (‘the Joint Task Force’) was held on 5th October in Abu Dhabi, co-chaired by His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), and Union Minister of Commerce and Industry. The Joint Task Force was established in 2013 to promote trade, investment and economic ties between India and the UAE. The Joint Task Force has provided an effective mechanism for discussion on opportunities & prospects for investments in both countries as well as resolution of issues faced by investors of the two countries.
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry interacted with 15 ambassadors from key African nations namely Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Republic of Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Morocco, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe on 8th June 2023 in New Delhi. It provided a unique platform for diplomatic representatives to engage in fruitful discussions, strengthen bilateral ties, and forge new partnerships for mutual growth and development. Union Minister of Commerce and Industry addressed the 18th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on ‘India-Africa Growth Partnership’ on 15th June 2023 in New Delhi.
Other Significant Events
Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF)
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry participated in the third in-person IPEF Ministerial meeting on 14th November, 2023 in San Francisco, California. During this Ministerial meeting, the first-of-its-kind IPEF Supply Chain Resilience Agreement was signed by the Minister along with the Ministers from other IPEF partner countries. The Agreement is expected to make IPEF supply chains more resilient, robust, and well-integrated, and contribute towards economic development and progress of the region as a whole.
20th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers’ meeting
The 20th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers’ meeting was held on 21st August 2023 in Semarang, Indonesia. The Economic Ministers or their representatives from all the 10 ASEAN countries viz. Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam participated in the meeting. The main agenda of this year’s meeting was the timely review of ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) which was signed in 2009.
Ongoing Free Trade Agreement negotiations
India-European Union (EU) Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations were formally re-launched on 17th June 2022 as follow up of India-EU Leaders announcement in Porto on 8th May 2021. Negotiations cover 23 policy areas / chapters. Six Rounds of negotiations have been held till October 2023.
India-UK FTA negotiations were launched on 13th January 2022. The Thirteenth round of negotiations for the UK-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) took place from 18th September to 15th December, 2023. The UK and India will continue to negotiate towards a comprehensive and ambitious Free Trade Agreement. The Fourteenth round of negotiations will take place in January 2024.
India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) builds on the foundation laid by the India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), which came into force from 29th December 2022. The CECA envisage a deeper and comprehensive agreement, covering: (i) 5 Tracks agreed as per Article 14.5 of Chapter 14 of the India-Australia ECTA namely Goods, Services, Digital Trade, Government Procurement, Rules of Origin-PSRs- Under formal negotiations; (ii) New areas in which either party has shown interest for inclusion in CECA like Competition Policy, MSME, Gender, innovation, Agri-Tech, Critical Minerals, Sports-Under exploratory discussions; and (iii) Negotiation on CECA started in February 2023. 7th round of CECA negotiations was held in hybrid mode from 4th – 20th October 2023 where significant progress has been made in Rules of Origin (ROO) track with agreement on 4699 lines (84%) so far. In exploratory discussions, convergence has been achieved in MSME, Competition, Sports, Innovation, Traditional Knowledge, Labor, Gender Tracks. Intersessional meetings conducted on Digital Trade, Government Procurement, ROO, Legal & Institutional and Environment track in November, 2023.
India-Sri Lanka Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ECTA) negotiations are ongoing with the 12th round of negotiations conducted from 30th October to 1st November 2023 in Colombo. Both sides delved into a spectrum of critical areas, including Trade in Goods, Technical Barriers to Trade and Trade in Services. Both sides also agreed to continue discussions on matters including apparel quotas and pharmaceutical procurement.
A Special Round of negotiations for the India – Peru Trade Agreement was held virtually on 10th -11th October, 2023. Discussions on various chapters including Initial Provisions and General Definitions, Rules of Origin, Trade in Goods, Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation, Technical Barriers to Trade, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, General and Security Exceptions, Cooperation and Legal and Institutional Issues/Dispute Settlement were undertaken during this special round. Special round for the Chapters on Services and Movement of Natural Persons was held on 21st November 2023. Intersessional meetings were parallelly held in various tracks such as NTMA for Goods, SPS & TBT and Cooperation separately.
Policies regarding import/export
DGFT notified the amended rules for calculation of Composition Fee for extending Export Obligation under Advance Authorization Scheme by amending Para 4.42 of Handbook of Procedures (2015-20) vide Public Notice No.52/2015-20 dated 18th January 2023. The simplification of calculations for Composition Fee helps in automation and faster service delivery by making the process more efficient and easier to understand.
DGFT has simplified and liberalized the policy for export of Drones/UAVs meant for civilian end uses from India vide DGFT Notification No. 14 dated 23rd June 2023. All kind/type of drones/UAVs were earlier controlled/restricted for export under the category 5B of the SCOMET (Special Chemicals Organisms Material Equipments and Technology) list under Appendix 3 of Schedule 2 of the ITCHS classification of Import and Export Items which list deals with the category of items that are subject to specific regulations due to their potential dual-use nature—meaning they can have both civilian and military applications. SCOMET license was required for export of such items and the industry was facing challenges to export drones with limited capability which are only meant for civilian use.
The Scheme for Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) support which was notified till 30th September 2023 has now been extended till 30th June 2024 at the same rates to the existing export items. The Scheme is WTO compatible and is being implemented in an end-to-end IT environment. The Scheme provides a mechanism for reimbursement of taxes, duties and levies, which are currently not being refunded under any other mechanism, at the central, state and local level, but which are incurred by the export entities in the process of manufacture and distribution of exported products. Under the Scheme, a support of Rs. 27,018 crores have been extended for the 27-month period till 31st March 2023.
A function was held by Government e-Marketplace (GeM) in partnership with Self-Employed Women’s Association, Bharat (SEWA Bharat) to commemorate the success of “Womaniya on Government eMarketplace (GeM)” on 14th January 2023 in New Delhi. Launched in 2019, the “Womaniya” initiative has sought to encourage the participation of women entrepreneurs and self-help groups (SHG) from the informal sector on the GeM portal and facilitate the sale of their products directly to various Government buyers, sans intermediaries.
GeM organized the ‘क्रेता-विक्रेता गौरव सम्मान समारोह 2023’ on 26th June 2023 to recognize the outstanding performance of government buyers and sellers in the public procurement process through GeM. GeM organized Buyer-Seller Workshops in all the 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh from 12th June 2023 till 31st August 2023 to enhance the understanding of GeM’s functionalities among buyers and sellers in the State, as well as provide a platform to address any queries or concerns they may have.
Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority
In a move to harness export potential of millets to the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCCs), Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lulu Hypermarket LLC on 21st February 2023. This will facilitate manufactures to send various samples of millet products to Lulu Hypermarkets, which will be showcased at its various stores.
APEDA organized the Global Millets (Shree Anna) Conference on 18th March 2023 in New Delhi to stimulate the exports of millets from India and provide market linkage to the producers. Around 100 Indian millet exhibitors from different parts of the country and around 100 international buyers from various countries like the USA, UAE, Kuwait, Germany, Vietnam, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Bhutan, Italy and Malaysia were invited to the Conference.
In a major boost to fruits exports prospects, APEDA has facilitated the export of the first trial shipment of the following: (i) fresh pomegranate to the USA through air route in August 2023; (ii) fresh bananas to the Netherlands via a sea route on 9th November, 2023 from Baramati, Maharashtra; and (iii) water chestnut from LBSI Airport Varanasi to UAE on 20th November 2023.
Spice Board organized the World Spice Congress at Navi Mumbai from the 15th to the 17th of September 2023. World Spice Congress provides an opportunity to get to know this sector in a better way. Trade, sustainability, quality and food safety initiatives, recent developments, concerns and future prospects are discussed and deliberated in detail by the key players of the industry- the producers, traders, processors, exporters and regulators from across the world.
The Government of India notified the constitution of the National Turmeric Board on 4th October 2023. The National Turmeric Board will focus on the development and growth of turmeric and turmeric products in the country.
Tea Board participated in the reverse Buyer-Seller Meet (RBSM) in the “World Food India 2023” with value-added exporters and a number of buyers from countries like UAE, Russia, Egypt, France, Japan, Qatar visited the stalls. Generic Promotion of Assam tea in connection with its completion of 200 years of its journey was done through Audio Video advertisements and advertising (Digital and Static media) was continued at Guwahati International Airport in November 2023.
Despite global headwinds both merchandise and services exports robust performance. India’s overall export (Merchandise plus Services) stood at USD 499.46 billion during April-November 2023 as compared to USD 506.52 billion during April-November 2022.