Government looks at dedicated pool of officers for trade talks

Sunday, Mar 6, 2016,11:17 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | Commerce Ministry is working on a proposal to constitute a group of young officers who will be trained specifically for complex trade negotiations, including WTO and free trade pacts. The officers from Indian Trade Service (ITS) and Indian Economic Service (IES) are expected to be included in the country’s trade negotiation team.

Several countries have a strong team for such negotiations. We now need to pick up young officers and give them exposure and training and make them understand the intricacies of entire negotiating process, a senior official of the Commerce Ministry told. The official added, We would like to see a mechanism under which the young officers from services like ITS and IES are trained and inducted for global trade talks.

The ministry is discussing the issue at the level of the Prime Minister’s Office and guidelines for the same are expected to be prepared soon. Currently, India does not have a dedicated team of officers for international trade related negotiations as often the officials involved in the process are transferred after completion of their tenure.

Countries like Japan, the UK and US have big negotiating teams, while Indian contingent sometimes have only two officials for negotiating a particular aspect of a trade agreement, another source said. Citing the example of the ongoing negotiations for the mega trade deal Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the source added that the negotiating team of Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) is much bigger than that of India.

Trade experts said that this a welcome move and would help in strengthening the negotiating position of India. This is a very good step. This will provide the much needed continuity, which is what most of the major economies have been doing. This step will help safeguard India’s interests better, said Biswajit Dhar, a trade expert and Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University. The Commerce Ministry is also looking at panel of trade lawyers who can be roped in depending on trade disputes and negotiations.