The much awaited 5th edition of the EIITF Conference kicked off on 16th December 2016 at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Kolkata campus. The event started with the lamp lighting ceremony by the noted dignitaries. It was followed by a welcome note by Dr R M Joshi, Professor and Chairperson, International Projects Division with Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. He highlighted the central theme of the event by giving some interesting trivia about Indo – China trade disparity with the world and thanked all the intellectuals and the IIFT faculty for their efforts. The flow of knowledge continued with addresses by Dr Vijaya Katti, an author of more than five books on Economics & Trade and an esteemed faculty at IIFT, and Dr K Rangarajan, Head- Centre for MSME Studies; Center head at IIFT Kolkata.
The Chief guest of the event, Dr A.K. Bhalla, a 1986 cadre IAS officer; Director General of Foreign Trade; Director, IIFT, captured the imagination of the audience by pointing out the important role these events play in boosting the government’s efforts to improve upon the current level of research in International trade. He appreciated the steps taken by the central government by introducing various reforms to facilitate ease of doing business and trade and mentioned Sagarmala port project as one such initiative taken up by the government in this direction.
Ms Leila Choukroune, the Director of Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities, a renowned author and researcher, addressed the delegates on the ‘“Non-concerns” in trade and investment negotiations’. Ms Leila started off by quoting excerpts from the Geetanjali and then highlighted the issues revolving around the non-trade assets and investments, particularly those faced by the developing nations, which made the academicians and policy makers put on their thinking caps. One important takeaway from the session was that it is high time the treaties integrate and address these non-concerns in a better way.
Post Lunch, there were three sessions on Environment and Development Economics 1, BOP and Exchange Rate 1 and Indian Economy respectively. The four sessions post Tea break were on Environment and Development Economics 2, FDI 1, BOP and Exchange Rate 2 and Logistics and Trade Facilitation.
The day ended on a high note with a mesmerising cultural performance by a traditional group from Assam. They set the stage on fire with their Bihu dance performance. It was a fantastic way to end the day which had so much to offer for all the students, faculties and delegates.
The final day of the 5th EIITF Conference started promisingly with a special lecture by Prof. Rajat Acharya, a renowned academician and author of several books. His discussion was based on the theme ‘Trade and Economic Development’. He started with the explanation of Economic Development and how it relates to the nation improving the Economic, Political and Social well-being of its people.
Post Tea, there was a policy forum on ‘Brexit: Opportunities for India’. It was an insightful and stimulating session headed by Chairperson Mr Abhijeet Das, Head & Professor at Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. The discussion saw varied perspectives from the three panellists on the likely impact of Brexit on India and how it will affect the relations between India, UK and the European Union. Dr Anita Praveen, Joint secretary at Department of Commerce, Government of India opined that India should recalibrate its policies with the EU and not consider tariffs as a source of revenue generation. Dr Rashmi Banga, Head and Adviser at Commonwealth Secretariat put forth her cost and benefit analysis of Brexit and remarked that India should concentrate on the prospects of the services sector in the UK. Dr Siddhartha Roy, economic advisor to the Tata Group proposed that India should look at the opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector in the UK. The other sessions during this interval were on BOP and Exchange Rate 3, International Trade Barriers and Trade Facilitation, Policy Forum 2- Investment Issues in Asia.
Post Lunch, there were seven sessions on Financial Econometrics, FDI 2, RTA & WTO 2, Financial Market, RTA & WTO 1, Export and Firm-Level Analysis respectively. The Conference culminated with a valedictory address by Prof. RM Joshi and a Vote of Thanks by Prof. RP Sharma. Prof. Joshi explained that it is extremely difficult to forecast topics for conferences like EIITF as the modern World is extremely dynamic. Prof. Sharma extended the vote of thanks to all the dignitaries, volunteers, faculties and delegates.
In a nutshell, the 5th EIITF Conference was a mega success and has set the bar extremely high for the future editions of the conference.