India will allow domestic industry to play a more direct role in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry plans to have sector experts from outside the government system to be part of the Indian negotiation team in future free trade agreement discussions, says Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal.

Releasing the 'Department of Commerce Restructuring Dossier' at Vanijya Bhawan, New Delhi on August 23, Goyal said the Indian Trade Service will induct private sector specialists through a lateral entry system to drive specialization and institutional memory within the department. Goyal said the restructuring exercise will be undertaken to equip the ecosystem to achieve $2 trillion worth of exports by 2030. Indian exports are expected to move up from $650 billion in 2021-22 to $750 billion in 2022-23.

The restructuring exercise within the department of commerce will see the establishment of a dedicated 'Trade Promotion Body' to drive formulation and execution of promotion strategy, digitisation of trade facilitation processes and rehauling the data and analytics ecosystem.

The Trade Promotion Body is expected to formulate and drive the overall trade promotion strategy, create and drive India's branding across focus markets and sectors, coordinate between missions, states and export promotion councils, undertake strategic initiatives like buyer seller meets and develop digital platforms for exporters and buyers.

In order to promote 'brand India' a branding, marketing and events division will be formed within the new body. The division will work with India Brand Equity Foundation to strengthen India brand image globally.

Similarly, a trade and analytics wing will be set up for in-house analytics and dissemination capabilities. A trade watch tower within the wing will identify market risks and opportunities on a regular basis.

Explaining the rationale behind the restructuring, Commerce Secretary B. V. R. Subrahmanyam said the 14 volume restructuring dossier prepared by the department with the help of Boston Consulting Group provides standard operating procedures for each division within the department, functions and deliverables of each division, a negotiation manual for future free trade agreement negotiations and broad contours of a new trade promotion body. The core areas of operation have been identified as trade negotiation and engagement, trade promotion, trade facilitation, trade remedies, state outreach (where states could be incentivised, handheld to increase exports), data and digital enablement, external stakeholder engagement and talent strategy.

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