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


Important for prelims.


  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”


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


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


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%

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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