1 Jan 2014

PM's speech at the event to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the IIFT

It is a pleasure for me to participate in this function to mark the Golden Jubilee of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. Today also brings back fond memories of the earlier occasions when I had the opportunity of associating with the Institute. More than 4 decades ago, when I was working at Delhi School of Economics, one of my papers was published in IIFT’s Journal “Foreign Trade Review.” I also visited the Institute in November 1993 as the Finance Minister to inaugurate a Business Summit. 

The Importance of the creative work being done by the Institutes should be obvious of the fact that India has to be a major trading nation of the world to realize its growth potential. 

It is not often recognized that India is not very well endowed with record to the availability of important natural resources and the only way we can make good this deficiency is through rigorously expanding international trade. Hence, the importance of international trade as a purposeful instrument of economic development of our country. 

Like so many other centres of excellence, IIFT owes its existence to the vision of our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Set up for research and training on foreign trade, the institute has evolved over the years to broaden its scope, which now encompasses the full spectrum of international business. I understand that over 28 batches, IIFT has produced more than 4000 professionals through its flagship MBA in International Business programme. I compliment all those who have contributed to the growth and development of the institute. 

India is increasingly getting integrated with the world economy. Over the years, our industry and services sectors have modernized and diversified in an unprecedented manner. We are emerging as a global centre for Information Technology, R&D and innovation. Our financial sector and capital markets have also modernized. In this scenario, the demand for professionals in international trade and business is also expected to grow. Institutes like IIFT have a vital role to perform in meeting this demand. 

As a major economy, whose future is inextricable linked with the global economy we must ensure that our academic institutions analyze the contours of the new trading systems that are emerging in the world. The ever expanding role of WTO, Regional Trade Agreements and the new Free Trade Agreements that lie over the horizon should be areas of priority for research for institutes like IIFT. 

More recently, there is a new wave of liberalization taking place in the world. The Trans-Atlantic nations are negotiating an agreement, called the Trans-Atlantic agreement. Similarly, in the Pacific region the US is taking the initiative to bring together trading nations of the Pacific Ocean rim. If these arrangements get going and we are not part of that new world order, you can all imagine how displaced our economy can become. If we do not keep pace with the changing moods and changing trends in evolving global economy to emerge as a highly competitive and innovative nation. 

I am very happy that IIFT has performed the role expected of it with great distinction. It has been conducting research both as part of in-house research programmes and also at the instance of client institutions, which include Central and State Governments, various Public Sector Undertakings and International organizations like the World Bank, the FAO and the WTO. 

The Institute has also contributed to trade policy formulation in India, advising the Government on negotiations in bilateral and multilateral preferential trade agreements. It has also provided services to agencies in other developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America as well. 

I am very happy that the Department of Posts has issued a postal stamp to mark the Golden Jubilee of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. I wish the institute even more growth and success for the future. I am sure that it will play an even larger role in providing expert inputs for our trade policy formulation. 

This institute has served the country well in first 50 years at its existence, but I venture to think that the best is yet to come and therefore I conclude by prayer for still more purposeful and glorious phase for development and I do hope that Institute, its professionals its alumni, will all work together to keep the institute growing and improving the the knowledge in the important area of trade policy research.

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