Millennium Post

Nirmala urges IIFT to contribute to free trade debate

Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday asked institutes like IIFT to meaningfully contribute to the debate over free trade agreements and also suggest ways to enhance India's trade competitiveness. Speaking at the 50th convocation of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), the minister said it is time now for such centres to be far more proactive, assertive and contribute in trade-related matters.

"Give inputs to the existing narrative of what is happening in the global trade or international business... get into the details and see what we can do in the next few years. Tell us how India is positioned and how Indian industry is positioned in terms of linking with the global value chains," she said. The minister requested the faculty and the students to contribute more on these issues.

"Activities of IIFT or the Centre for WTO Studies, Centre for SMEs should make a proactive contribution... it is this which is critical to policy-making and with due respect, it is this which I find somewhat absent," she added. The remarks assume significance as the country's exports slumped to a 5-year low of $261 billion in 2015-16. The exports have been in the negative zone since December 2014. The commerce ministry has recently held a brain-storming session with experts and academicians on exports and free trade agreements.
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