[op-ed snap] The need for a business cycle dating committee

Context:

  1. The idea of a business cycle dating committee (BCDC) for India has not received sufficient attention
  2. Most of the research in business cycles is done keeping in mind advanced industrial economies
  3. The scarcity of research for studies of business cycles in India along with data limitations might be some of the reasons why policymakers in India are not too concerned about this issue

What are business cycles?

  1. Business cycles are the short-run fluctuations in aggregate economic activity around its long-run growth path
  2. It is the “ups and downs” in economic activity, defined in terms of periods of expansion or recession
  3. The US’ National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) defines a recession as a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real gross domestic product (GDP), real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales

What does a BCDC do?

  1. A BCDC maintains a chronology comprising alternating dates of peaks and troughs in economic activity
  2. It analyses and compares the behaviour of key macroeconomic variables such as consumption, investment, unemployment, money supply, inflation, stock prices, etc., which may have different dynamics before, during and after the recession
  3. It identifies turning points which act as a reference point for the construction of coincident, leading and lagging indicators of the economy
  4. Timely identification of economic contraction and its severity allows policymakers to intervene, and thereby reduce its amplitude and duration
  5. In addition, firms can re-evaluate projections of sales and profits, and the consumers their purchasing and investment plans, based on information on transitions to new business cycle phases

International experiences of business cycle dating committees:

  1. The NBER’s BCDC maintains a chronology of the US business cycle
  2. NBER is a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization conducting economic research and regarded as authoritative by both academic researchers and the public at large
  3. The committee was created in 1978 and has been chaired by Robert Hall from Stanford University since its inception
  4. The committee waits long enough so that the existence of a peak or trough is not in doubt and does not follow a fixed time rule
  5. For the euro area, it is the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) which does this job
  6. Like the NBER, CEPR is also an independent, non-profit organization
  7. CEPR dates the business cycle for the euro area as a whole and not for any individual country
  8. Although the countries in the euro area have adopted a common monetary policy since 1999, countries have heterogeneous institutions and policies
  9. An emerging market economy such as Brazil has a BCDC known as O Comitê de Datação de Ciclos Econômicos (Codace), created by the Brazilian Institute of Economics

Why does India need a BCDC?

  1. By maintaining a chronology of business cycles, India will be able to better monitor the economy
  2. A BCDC can also maintain an index of coincident, leading and lagging indicators for the Indian economy
  3. Currently, India relies mostly on individual studies for the dating of business cycles
  4. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) set up a working group of economic indicators in 2002 and a technical advisory group (TAG) on the development of leading indicators for the Indian economy in 2006, both under the chairmanship of B. Barman
  5. The working group proposed a standing committee for business cycle analysis
  6. Its job was the same as a BCDC, i.e., maintaining historical dating of business cycles
  7. TAG suggested a methodological framework for the construction of coincident, leading and lagging indicators along with a composite index for the Indian economy

Who should be in charge of a BCDC?

  1. Whether a BCDC should be part of the government, the RBI or an independent research organization with high credibility is debatable
  2. Notably, the members of all the aforementioned BCDCs are independent scholars. As a result, the decision regarding the dating of business cycles is not political
  3. This is important in a country like India where GDP numbers are contentious and political parties try to score points on these numbers
  4. Also, the BCDCs are created by independent non-profit organizations
  5. This responsibility does not lie with the government or with the central bank

Note4Students:

Creating a BCDC will go a long way in maintaining transparency, strengthening the information base for the Indian economy and helping gauge better the changing nature of the Indian economy. This will also help India to be more in synchronization with the other developed and emerging market economies. An important op-ed for Mains.

₹600 crore scheme launched to create export-related infrastructure

  1. The Centre launched a new scheme- Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES)
  2. The scheme would have a budgetary allocation of ₹600 crore, with an annual outlay of ₹200 crore per year, and it would be implemented from FY’18 till FY’20
  3. Aim: To enhance export competitiveness by bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focused export infrastructure, first mile and last mile connectivity for export-oriented projects and addressing quality and certification measures
  4. Simply, to create export-related infrastructure and boost the competitiveness of India’s shipments
  5. It replaces a centrally sponsored scheme — Assistance to States for creating Infrastructure for the Development and growth of Exports (ASIDE)
  6. The focus is not just to create infrastructure, but to make sure it is professionally run and sustained
  7. There will be an Empowered Committee to periodically review the progress of the approved projects in the scheme and will take necessary steps to ensure achievement of the objectives of the scheme
  8. Benefits: The scheme would provide assistance for setting up and upgradation of infrastructure projects with overwhelming export linkages — like the border haats, land customs stations, quality testing and certification labs, cold chains, trade promotion centres, dry ports, export warehousing and packaging, Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and ports/airports cargo terminuses
  9. Eligibility: The Central and State Agencies, including Export Promotion Councils, Commodities Boards, SEZ authorities and Apex Trade Bodies recognised under the Centre’s Export-Import policy are eligible for financial support under this scheme
  10. Funding: The Centre’s funding will be in the form of grant-in-aid, normally not more than the equity being put in by the implementing agency or 50% of the total equity in the project
  11. In case of projects located in North Eastern States and Himalayan States including Jammu and Kashmir, this grant can be up to 80% of the total equity
  12. Ceiling: The grant in aid shall, normally, be subject to a ceiling of ₹20 crore for each infrastructure project
  13. Projects that can be covered under sector-specific schemes and not related to exports will not be supported under TIES

Note4students:

Important for pre and mains both. Note key features for prelims.

[pib] Launch of Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES)

  1. What? Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES)
  2. Focus of the scheme: on addressing the needs of the exporters
  3. The focus is not just to create infrastructure but to make sure it is professionally run and sustained
  4. The scheme would provide assistance for setting up and up-gradation of infrastructure projects with overwhelming export linkages like the Border Haats, Land customs stations, quality testing and certification labs, cold chains, trade promotion centres, dry ports, export warehousing and packaging, SEZs and ports/airports cargo terminuses
  5. Objective: of the proposed scheme is to enhance export competitiveness by bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focused export infrastructure, first mile and last mile connectivity for export-oriented projects and addressing quality and certification measures
  6. Funding: The Central Government funding will be in the form of grant-in-aid, normally not more than the equity being put in by the implementing agency or 50% of the total equity in the project
  7. The grant in aid shall, normally, be subject to a ceiling of Rs 20 Cr for each infrastructure project

Note4Students:

Very important for pre and mains. Such information often becomes useful while penning down Mains answer.

PIB

Peru-India trade pact talks to begin soon

  1. In September 2016, Peru and India concluded the joint feasibility study for an accord in trade in goods, services, investment and cooperation
  2. Significance of Peru: It could be an attractive destination for Indian investors because the country has a stable, predictable and transparent regime for foreign investors
  3. It also has many sectors open for trade and investment
  4. It can act as a key bridge to Latin America for India

Note4students:

Locate Peru on atlas and see the bordering countries and oceans. Note the significance of Peru from mains perspective.

Government plans merger of commodity boards

  1. Merger: The Commerce Ministry is planning merger of the commodity boards and set up an umbrella organisation in order to improve production and exports of plantation crops like tea, coffee and spices
  2. Why merge? Some of these boards were set up way back in 1940s and their merger could help in harmonising their activities and in turn, enhance the quality and boost exports
  3. The five commodity boards, under the Ministry of Commerce, are responsible for production, development and export of tea, coffee, rubber, spices and tobacco
  4. Background: These crops play an important role in the economic growth as they contribute in the country’s exports and also create huge employment for people
  5. But dip in global demand and prices have impacted shipments of some of these commodities
  6. In December 2016, exports of tea and tobacco recorded positive growth, while shipments of coffee and spices grew by 15 per cent and about 3 per cent, respectively
  7. Fact: Agri-products account for over 10 per cent of the country’s total exports

Note4students:

Important for prelims.

Back2basics:

  1. The Coffee Board: A statutory organisation constituted under the Coffee Act, 1942
  2. Similarly, the Rubber Board was constituted under the Rubber Act, 1947
  3. Tea Board was set up on 1st April, 1954 under the Tea Act, 1953
  4. The Tobacco Board was constituted in January, 1976, while the Spices Board was formed in February, 1987

Commerce Dept. special arm may drive foreign trade policy

  1. Source: A government-commissioned report prepared by the global consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan
  2. Current status: India’s foreign trade strategy and policy is currently being piloted predominantly by the Prime Minister’s Office and External Affairs Ministry
  3. Change needed: India’s future trade (policy) model should have the Commerce Department at the helm, supported by ministries including External Affairs and Finance
  4. Also a ‘transformed’ Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) should be the apex body for all trade promotion activities for the country
  5. Trade Service: Report makes a strong case for a higher profile for the Indian Trade Service (ITS) in matters of trade policies & systems.
  6. At present, the officials belonging to the Indian Administrative Service, Foreign Service and Revenue Service evidently have a relatively superior role over ITS cadre regarding decisions on crucial trade policy matters
  7. DGFT: A transformed DGFT should be made accountable for all trade promotion activities for India — providing services such as trade representation in foreign countries, research & development, market intelligence, business matchmaking services as well as public relations, advertising and marketing services
  8. Recruit professionals: Noting that the DGFT needs to re-skill its resources to be successful, future recruitment should focus on professionals with experience and qualifications in trade and commerce from reputed institutions
  9. Background: The report comes at a time when India’s goods exports have not yet recovered fully from the impact of a prolonged contraction from December 2014 to May 2016, as well as the government’s demonetisation exercise early November
  10. India is currently ranked 130 out of 190 countries in the ease of doing business; and particularly on the parameter of ‘trading across borders’ currently ranked at a dismal 143
  11. It also comes in the backdrop of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) stating in December 2016 that “… the number of new trade-restrictive measures being introduced (by WTO Member countries) remains worryingly high given continuing global economic uncertainty and the WTO’s downward revision of its trade forecasts”

Note4students:

The news has a lot of reform or way forward points for trade & commerce in/by India.

Back2basics:

1.Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) organisation is an attached office of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and is headed by Director General of Foreign Trade.

2.From its inception till 1991, when liberalization in the economic policies of the Government took place, it has been essentially involved in the regulation and promotion of foreign trade through regulation. Keeping in line with liberalization and globalization and the overall objective of increasing of exports, DGFT has since been assigned the role of “facilitator”. The shift was from prohibition and control of imports/exports to promotion and facilitation of exports/imports, keeping in view the interests of the country.

3. It is responsible for formulating and implementing the Foreign Trade Policy with the main objective of promoting India’s exports.

Export infrastructure scheme on the anvil

  1. Source: Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the Council for Trade Development and Promotion
  2. What: The Centre will tie up with the States to soon roll-out a new scheme called ‘TIES’ — or Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme — to boost export infrastructure
  3. She said the States must develop their own export strategy in alignment with the national foreign trade policy
  4. They should also enhance co-operation with Central agencies to set up common facilities for testing, certification, trace-back, packaging and labelling
  5. She said that about 150 Sanitary & Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures (or norms on food safety and animal & plant health standards)
  6. And a similar number of Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) notifications (including mandatory and voluntary standards) were being issued by WTO-member countries each month
  7. Around 50-60% of these measures have the potential to impact India’s trade
  8. Therefore, she said the States should cooperate with the Centre for setting up common facilities like testing labs and training institutes as well as to ensure packaging and storage support to the Indian industry
  9. So far only 17 States (of the 29 States and seven UTs in the country) have prepared their export strategy
  10. On services, she said IT and ITeS had an overwhelming predominance in India’s services exports but were largely restricted to the U.S. and EU markets
  11. This makes them vulnerable to changes imposed by these two trading blocs
  12. There is a need to diversify our services exports
  13. Areas like medical tourism, nursing and healthcare, education, audio-visual media have an excellent potential that can be harnessed
  14. For this, we need to develop the right competencies like language skills for the East and North East Asian markets
  15. Other measures: Meanwhile, the Centre has decided to soon bring out a Logistics Performance Index to rank states on steps taken to facilitate trade and improve logistics
  16. Measures in the pipeline include expediting the proposal for a north east corridor to improve connectivity with south east Asian countries and exports to that region

Back2basics:

Council for Trade Development and Promotion was constituted in order to ensure a continuous dialogue with State Governments and UTs on measures for providing an international trade enabling environment in the States and to create a framework for making the States active partners in boosting India’s exports.

It’s composition is as following:

[pib] What are the schemes and measures to increase India’s share in global trade?

  1. The Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) was introduced in the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20
  2. The Government is implementing the Niryat Bandhu Scheme with an objective to reach out to the new and potential exporters
  3. Interest Equalization Scheme on pre & post shipment credit launched to provide cheaper credit to exporters.
  4. By way of trade facilitation and enhancing the ease of doing business, Government reduced the number of mandatory documents required for exports and imports

[pib] What is Min of Commerce doing for Plantation crops?

  1. Department of Commerce has recently approved the Revenue Insurance Scheme for Plantation Crops  (RISPC)
  2. Aim: Protecting growers of tea, coffee, rubber, cardamom and tobacco from the twin risks of weather and price arising from yield loss due to adverse weather parameters, pest attacks etc.
  3. Scheme is to be implemented on pilot basis in eight districts in the States of West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu
  4. It will be implemented by the Commodity Boards through selected insurance companies.

[pib] Know more about Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM)

  1. Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP
  2. Objective: To take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy that was approved by the Government in May 2016
  3. CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country,
  4. Promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation,
  5. Providing inventors with a platform to commercialize their IP assets

Centre eyes sops to spur internal trade- I

  1. The Centre may soon consider a three-pronged approach to revitalise India’s retail and wholesale trade
  2. This includes (i) establishing a regulatory body for national internal trade (retail and wholesale), (ii) a comprehensive domestic trade policy and (iii) a Board for Internal Trade
  3. Currently there is no single regulatory body or ministry for domestic trade- comprising mainly non-corporate small businesses providing employment to an estimated 460 million people
  4. There are about six crore such small enterprises in the country with an annual turnover of around Rs.30 lakh crore
  5. It has been estimated that about 70% of the country’s retail trade has not been linked to computers and digitised

Way ahead on Board of Internal Trade

  1. Context: Setting up of Board of Internal Trade
  2. It is important to set up such a Board under a single ministry- the Commerce and Industry Ministry
  3. Why? Currently internal trade comes under the ambit of multiple ministries leading to delays in addressing their issues
  4. To help build a cashless system, the government needs to subsidise transaction costs in card use and incentivise digital payment

Centre plans to set up Board of Internal Trade

  1. Context: Setting up of Board of Internal Trade
  2. The Commerce and Industry Ministry will consider a proposal put forward by traders for setting up a Board of Internal Trade
  3. Aim: In a large and diverse market like India, internal trade has several issues that will need special attention
  4. The govt will benefit from getting alerts about the problems being faced by the domestic industry
  5. Even as exports have been affected by a weak global demand, India’s internal trade has been doing well

New marble import policy to end licence raj- II

  1. Lower MIP: The Minimum Import Price for marble blocks has been reduced to address the distortions associated with an MIP
  2. SIT rec: Incidentally, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to probe black money had recommended doing away with the MIP on products such as marble
  3. It had indicated that continued imposition of MIPsaying otherwise it could lead to money laundering
  4. The SIT had mooted strong action under the anti-money laundering legislation to prevent foreign trade-linked money laundering

New marble import policy to end licence raj- I

  1. The commerce ministry has notified the new import policy for marble and that it would come into effect from October 1
  2. Aim: To balance the interests of domestic consumers, producers and processors
  3. Also to end the cumbersome licensing system for import of marble and travertine blocks
  4. The Quantitative Restriction on the import of Marble & Travertine Blocks has also come to end
  5. To address the interests of domestic producers, the Basic Customs Duty on import of Marble will go up from the present 10 to 40%


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