New Delhi: The commerce ministry has set up a High Level Advisory Group (HLAG) headed by economist Surjit S. Bhalla, member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, to identify and pursue opportunities and address challenges in the current global trade scenario. “The HLAG will consider ways for boosting India’s share and importance in global merchandise and services trade, managing pressing bilateral trade relations and mainstreaming new-age policy-making," a commerce ministry statement said.

Other members of the committee are former Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, former Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher, Principal Economic Advisor in the finance ministry Sanjeev Sanyal, Quality Council of India chairman Adil Zainulbhai, former Deputy Director-General at the World Trade Organisation Harsha Vardhana Singh, Director-General of the National Council for Applied Economic Research Shekhar Shah, Foreign Policy Advisor Vijay Chauthaiwale, Professor Pulok Ghosh of IIM Bangalore, former Ambassador of India to the WTO Jayant Dasgupta, Rajiv K Luthra of Luthra & Luthra, and Confederation of Indian Industry Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee.

The terms of reference of the HLAG are to examine the prevailing international trade dynamics, including, but not confined to, rising protectionist tendencies, especially on the part of major economies, non-engagement by some countries in outstanding trade negotiation issues and commitments, including the Doha Development Agenda, and their insistence on pursuing negotiating mandates, in many cases prematurely and without effort, to build consensus and common understanding.

“On new issues and in light of this examination, the HLAG will suggest a way forward for India, taking into account its interests and sensitivities, and provide options for a balanced approach for the global community to build on achievements thus far, in creating a conducive global trade framework, and move forward in a harmonious and consensual manner that is acceptable to the larger global community," the statement said.

The group may also consider possible approaches and suggest a pragmatic framework for India’s future engagement in international trade, and the manner in which it can play a proactive and constructive role in working with the community of nations in exploring and building consensus on resolving emergent trade related issues, the commerce ministry said.

“The HLAG will meet regularly over the next two months and make specific implementable recommendations to facilitate the formulation of future trade policies," the statement added.

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