The major highlights of the Department of Commerce during the year 2020 are as follows:
1. Relief for exporters during Covid-19
- Foreign Trade Policy extended upto 31st March 2021.
- Validity of Advance Authorizations extended by 6 months.
- Export Obligation Period extended by 6 months.
- The Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS), having provision of Rs 3 lakh Cr, is 100% credit guarantee and Collateral Free Automatic Loans for MSMEs.
- Fund of Funds for equity infusion in MSMEs and additional support to farmers via concessional credit.
2. India as a supplier of medical supplies to the world (During COVID-19)
- DGFT tweaked both export and import policy of sensitive medical inputs to ensure adequate supplies within the country.
- India supplied around 45 tons and 400 million tablets of hydroxychloroquine to around 114 countries globally.
- Paracetamol supplies of around 96 million tablets, 0.4 million of suspension IP, 0.8 million bottles and 270 MT, in various other forms were made to 24 countries, along with supplies of other essential materials to ~57 countries.
- PPE production capacity revamped to half million kits every day from virtually nil earlier.
3. Enhanced ease of doing business through electronic governance and trade facilitation
- Electronic Platform for Preferential Certificate of Origin was released. Various FTA partner countries were persuaded to accept e-COOs and till date ~1.3 Lakh COOs have been issued from the e-platform.
- Duty Exemption Authorizations such as Advance Authorization & EPCG were made paperless and the digitally encrypted authorization data is auto-transmitted to Customs.
- MEIS Export Benefits issued through faceless, auto-approval processes in real-time and supplemented with an online module for voluntary e-transfer of Duty Credit Scrips.
- Implemented Steel Import Monitoring System (SIMS) for advance intimation of steel imports.
- Import Monitoring System (IMS) being developed for Aluminum, Copper, Footwear, Furniture, Paper, Sports Goods, Gym equipment etc.
- 24×7 Auto-Generation of e-IEC (Importer Exporter Code).
4. Reducing Non-Essential Imports
- Restrictions imposed on items wherein there exists domestic capabilities to produce/ manufacture goods or to encourage domestic industries such as Gold & Silver, Bio-fuels, Aggarbatti, New pneumatic tyres, Power tiller & components and Colour television sets etc.
- Imports of items such as cut flowers, natural rubber etc are being discouraged by imposing port-restrictions; and to reduce imports of items such as toys and LED products and DC or AC supplied control gears for LED modules they are now subject to compliance of BIS standards.
- Imports of ACs with refrigerants & Stock lots of writing & printing paper have been prohibited.
5. Procurement reimagined with Government e-Marketplace (GeM)
- Promoting transparent public procurement while giving a fair opportunity and level playing field to vendors.
- Total transaction value on GeM portal has crossed Rs. 74,552 Crore as on 30th December 2020. There are 17.6 lakh listed products, 9 lakh sellers and service providers and 11,543 product categories on GeM.
6. Fast track mechanism for trade remedy
- The e-filing facility for anti-dumping investigations has been formally launched to facilitate filing of petitions by the Domestic industry.
- Online portal titled ARTIS (Application for Remedies in Trade for Indian industry and other Stakeholders) has been developed to facilitate online filing of applications for trade remedies. 31 applications filed through ARTIS.
7. Enhanced capacity of Export Credit, Insurance and MAI assistance
8. Bilateral trade promotion
- European Union: 15th India-EU Summit was held virtually on 15.7.2020. In this summit, the leaders adopted “India-EU Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025” to guide cooperation between India and the EU over the next five years.
- Indonesia:A Bilateral meeting between Hon’ble CIM and Indonesian Trade Minister was held on 20.02.2020 in New Delhi wherein Market access issues faced by India in auto sector, agriculture sector (quota issue in bovine meat, pending approval of dairy plants, import restriction on chilies, discriminatory tariff issue on rice, International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis (ICUMSA) level of Sugar), pharmaceuticals, textiles etc. were discussed in detail.
- Mauritius: India-Mauritius Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement CECPA negotiations for trade in goods and trade in services, have been completed. The Agreement is near finalization.
- US:COVID-19 has led to increased trade and cooperation between India and US with India making gestures such as relaxation of export restrictions on 24 APIs and hydroxychloroquine. Three USA companies are currently engaged with their Indian counterparts for mass production of COVID-19 vaccines in India.
- Kuwait: A Virtual meeting between Hon’ble CIM and His Excellency Mr. Khalid Naser Al Roudan, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Kuwait held on 21stJuly 2020 wherein after extensive consultation with the stakeholders (Line Ministries and EPCs), the Rules of Origin /Product Specific Rules under the India-Mauritius CECPA has been revised to make it more stringent to contain possible circumvention.
- UK:The 14th meeting of the India-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) was organized on 24th July, 2020, wherein both sides committed to an Enhanced Trade Partnership as part of a roadmap that could lead to a future FTA and agreed to cooperation in many other issues of commonality like Food & Drink sector, Data issues etc.
- West Africa: The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) organized virtually the “India-West Africa Summit and Buyer Sellers Meet 2020” from 19th to 20th November 2020. The meet primarily focused on sectors like, Agriculture & Food Processing,Healthcare & Pharma, Energy Infrastructure, ICT & Telecommunications, Apparel, etc.
- Oman: 9th Session of India-Oman Joint Commission Meeting was held on 19th October, 2020. Both sides reviewed the progress of prospective Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) in the field of mining, standards & metrology, financial intelligence, cultural exchange, and information technology, and agreed to conclude them expeditiously.
9. Multilateral trade initiatives/events
- BRICS: Under the presidency of Russia, 3 meetings of CGETI (23rd, 24th& 25th) were held in February, April and July, 2020. While the 23rd Meeting was held physically in Moscow on 26-28 February, 2020; the 24th and the 25th Meeting were held virtually because of Covid-19 pandemic. The Commerce and Industry Minister led the Indian delegation for the 10th BRICS Trade Ministers’ meeting held virtually on 23rd July, 2020
- Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO): India is the Chair of Council of Heads of Government during the year 2020. India held meetings of the Ministers responsible for Foreign Economic and Foreign Trade Activities of the SCO Member States virtually.
10. Strengthening trade related infrastructure and Logistics
- India improved its ranking from 77 in 2019 to 63 in 2020 in the Ease of Doing Business Report of the World Bank.
- Improved Port Community System 1x (PCS 1x) was introduced in all major ports.
- 100% of all EXIM cargo can now be tracked and traced through RFID tagging of containers.
- “Turant customs” has been implemented to make customs clearance a face-less exercise.
- Mobile X-Ray scanners are being installed at major ports.
- Mandatory electronic toll collection system (FASTag) for reducing time loss at time toll plaza.
11. Plantation Sector
- Rubber: A new high yielding and cold resistant clone exclusively for North East, has been developed by Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) in February 2020. A new Rubber Products Incubation Centre was commissioned in June 2020 at RRRI
- Spices: Projects launched by Spice Board during 2020 are: National Sustainable Spice Programme in association with World Spice Organization; Global Environmental Fund Project in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh;Doubling of exports of spices in line with Agriculture Export Policy and increasing farmers income by INDGAP Certification in collaboration with QCI.
- Tea: Alternative e-commerce auction platform (m-junction) has been set up in Jorhat district of Assam to provide value added services like central warehousing & logistics. The average tea auction prices for 2020-21 (Apr-Nov) stands at Rs. 215.90 per Kg, an improvement of Rs.69.97 per Kg (47.95%) compared to corresponding period last year which helped the Small Tea Growers in realising higher price of green leaves.
- Coffee: Coffee Board has established an Atal Incubation Centre – Central Coffee Research Institute – Centre for Development under Atal Innovation Mission of NITI Aayog.
12. India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO)
- In keeping up with the needs and requirements of modern exhibition and convention industry, ITPO has undertaken a mega project of redevelopment of Pragati Maidan into a world-class iconic International Exhibition and Convention Centre (IECC) which will be a unique symbol of New India and help improve the nation’s image in terms of world class modern MICE infrastructure. The project is targeted to be completed by October, 2021(except Hall A6 which may go up to March 2022).