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Gender to figure in trade policy vision

The foreign trade policy (FTP) that is likely to be unveiled on 30 September will for the first time include a women’s empowerment and gender equality component after countries such as Canada and the UK insisted on such a chapter being part of their free trade agreements with India.

The FTP will likely acknowledge the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment, given the large number of women entrepreneurs in the export sector.

There may be scope for additional facilitation measures and non-fiscal incentives.

The subject will part of the FTP vision rather than a separate chapter.

India is open to including gender issues in free trade agreements to encourage more women to participate in international trade. This may translate into greater facilitating measures, said a government official.

“We will likely cover women empowerment and gender equality in the vision document of the FTP, but not in the FTP implementation part as of now. We have not worked out anything specific in the FTP implementation part and may look at it in the future,” said the official.

Nisha Taneja, professor, ICRIER, said a number of measures are being taken by the central and state governments as well as the private sector to create an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs by providing them assistance in capacity building and skill development, financial inclusion, early-stage support and access to markets.

“However, the focus on international trade has not got adequate attention and has been sadly missing,” said Taneja.

According to a recent Policy Brief by ICRIER, inclusion of gender specific provisions in the forthcoming FTP and FTAs under negotiation would be a much needed first step in this direction.

“It is time for a concerted focus on enhancing the participation of women in international trade, similar to the effort being made for the scaling up and internationalization of MSMEs,” added Taneja.

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