Impact of International Trade on Indian Grassroots: Why India dissented from RCEP

A reluctant participant in the dragged out RCEP negotiations that began in 2012, India gradually warmed up to the idea of greater economic integration to move up the global value chain. Although protectionist forces opposed the RCEP since its inception, liberal advocates of laissez-faire pushed for the free trade agreement.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade agreement originally devised to consist of 16 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. At the RCEP’s administrative core is ASEAN: an intergovernmental grouping of 10 Southeast Asian countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It was proposed that the ASEAN bloc will be joined with six member-states: China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

While the RCEP is administratively built around ASEAN, the main mover is China. The world’s largest trading bloc was pushed by Beijing starting 2012 to counter a free trade agreement that was in the works at that time: theTrans-Pacific Partnership. The US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership excluded China and hence the RCEP was Beijing’s balancing act. The Chinese government inculcated ways to expand its market through this regional trading bloc. For example, there is no coconut cultivation in China, but the Chinese import them from other countries and then process and export.

Indian diplomat, counsels, farmers and politicians dissented from joining the RCEP. Trade deficit, unemployment, decrease of domestic produce in the country, anti-dumping measures are a few reasons for this opposition.

Areas of disagreement with the RCEP member-states: Why India opted out

1. Base Year: There is a disagreement between India and the RCEP members on fixing the base year. The base year is the first of a series of years in an economic or financial index. For example, to find the rate of inflation between 2013 and 2018, 2013 is the base year or the first year in the time set. The base year can also describe the starting point from a point of growth. India opposed to the proposal that 2013 be treated as the base year for reducing tariffs, effectively implying that member countries should slash import duties on products to the level that existed in 2013. India is pushing for 2019 as the base year, given that import duty on many products such as textiles and electronic products has gone up in the last six years.

2. Rules of Origin: Rules of origin are the criteria needed to determine the national source of a product. Their importance is derived from the fact that duties and restrictions in several cases depend upon the source of imports. As per RCEP, China and Korea may be using countries like Indonesia and Thailand as “proxy” countries from where, the good which is actually originating in China or Korea, will be imported to India. Countries like Indonesia and Thailand are getting involved in the Chinese and Korean markets by staging that they qualify as the Minimum Value-Addition Criteria as Assembly Plants, from where the export to international markets will take place. Hence, such an act may lead to India becoming a dumping ground.

3.Trade Deficit: India registered a trade deficit in 2018-19 with as many as 11 RCEP member countries. China is India’s largest trading partner while we are China’s 11th largest trading partner India had a trade deficit of $104 billion with RCEP countries. More than half of this was with China at $53 billion. This raised worries about India being flooded with Chinese goods once the RCEP deal takes effect.

4.Indian sectors facing the consequence of RCEP: Various domestic industries including dairy, textile and automobiles have raised serious concerns and opposed the pact over tariff-related issues, especially with China. Pharmaceutical, steel, and chemical industries are also impacted.

5.Import Tariff imposed on countries: India wants exemptions built into the ratchet obligations as part of the pact. A ratchet obligation implies that a member country cannot be raising tariffs once the pact comes into effect. An exemption would imply that a country will be able to erect restrictive measures later on grounds of protecting the national interest. Under RCEP, India would have been required to eliminate tariffs on 74% of goods from China, Australia, and New Zealand, and 90% of goods from Japan, South Korea, and ASEAN. Amidst an economic slowdown, India faced the risk of becoming a dumping ground for foreign goods.

6.Protection of domestic data: There is also the issue of data localisation under the RCEP deal. India wants all countries to have the right to protect data. This would imply that countries can share data only where it is “necessary to achieve a legitimate public policy objective” or “necessary in the country’s opinion, for the protection of its essential security interests or national interests”.

7.Impact on specific products: Natural rubber, cardamom, tea and coffee, spices, rubber, coconut and oilseeds, milk, groundnut, oil palm, mustard, sunflower, soybean will be affected adversely. The idea is to understand that if the import of such products increases in the market, rural India gets hit.The RCEP would allow the dairy industry of Australia and New Zealand to compete with our resource-strapped farmers.


India’s farmers were worriedthat they would be unable to compete on a global scale.For example,the milk industry is a huge source of income for crores of farmers and they will be unable to face off against the highly developed dairy industry of New Zealand and Australia.Both these countries are eyeing the huge market in India.

It is notable that New Zealand exports 93.4 percent of its milk powder, 94.5 percent of its butter and 83.6 percent of its cheese production. Removal of tariffs, which at present are 60 percent for milk powder and 40 percent for fats, will allow the dumping of these products.  The presence of China, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan in RCEP will also affect sericulture, horticulture as well as floriculture in India. The farmers are also fearing that the RCEP might allow cheap imports of palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia and rubber, tea, cardamom and vanilla from other Southeast Asian countries.

Some of the Indian sectors effected by the RCEP are listed in this article:

1.Dairy: Farmer group representatives said that dairy cooperatives in India earn about Rs 280 to Rs 300 a kilogram of milk powder. They are worried that milk powder from Australia or New Zealand might become available at Rs 180 to Rs 200 a kilogram.

2.Spice: The India-Sri Lanka FTA’s impact was high on spice farmers. Pepper started coming from Vietnam through Sri Lanka. In 1999, the price of pepper was 720 per kg, which has now reduced to 330 per kg. Today, Lankan nutmeg, pepper and other spices are still coming to India and impacting our farmers.

3.Coffee: The price of raw coffee beans was Rs 63 per kg in December 1999. This got reduced to Rs 18 per kg in 2004. Hindustan Lever and Tata, both processing companies of processed tea and coffee, were the beneficiaries, while farmers were biggest losers. Tata transferred their plantation asset to some other company, because they could now import tea from outside and sell it India.

4.Fisheries: Another sector coming under threat is fisheries. Some of the countries are interested to open up the sea for Deep Sea Fishing (DSF) vessels. When the new DSF vessels enter the Indian Exclusive Economic Zones (EEC), they will go dry in a short span of time. If huge vessels operate in our fragile fisheries zone, our fishing resources will be exhausted within no time. This will displace 7.5 million fisherfolk.

5.Sugar: Farmer agitations are going on in most of the sugar producing states. Nowhere are farmers getting the due MSP. Sugar factory owners complain that retail prices of sugar have come down to Rs 40-42 per kg. This is due to import of sugar. Even though we increased import duty to 100 per cent, import is increasing, and export is decreasing.

6.Wheat: Wheat production provides livelihood to more than 6.7 crore Indians. There were bulk imports on account of the Indian government and the private sector manufacturers of bread, biscuits and noodles. These lead to a price crash of Rs 2.65 in the market.


However, many corporates and economists still believe that India’s manufacturing industry needs the pressure of external competition to secure global competitiveness it lacks.Without access to trading blocs, Indian industry would be limited to the home market, denying the growth of international expansion.It was being argued that the RCEP would facilitate India’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to effectively integrate into the regional value and supply chains. Moreover, RCEP can bring reforms in business competitiveness and policy reforms for India from these nations.

The exports category of T-shirts and singlets demonstrates how staying out of trade pacts is not sustainable. The US, a key market for India, imposes 32% tariff rate on India’s exports in this category, but nothing on exports from South Korea, as it enjoys zero tariffs under the US-Korea FTA. South Korea, a key competitor of Indian apparel exports, also enjoys zero tariffs under the EU-Korea FTA.

As per the Ease-Of-Doing-Business Index, except for Cambodia, Laos, and Philippines, all other RCEP nations rank higher than India, and hence can boast of better business conditions for attracting investments.

As India has now opined to step out of RCEP, foremost alternative is to engage with the RCEP nations bilaterally. In no circumstances, should India give out any impression that we are withdrawing from one of the most dynamic regions of the world.India has an existing trade agreement with the ASEAN and bilaterally with Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia,Japan, and South Korea. Clearly, the inclusion of India in the RCEP could have given more market access to the rest of the three countries namely, China, Australia, and New Zealand.

It is equally important is to see how Indian institutions are meeting with global commitments that have geo-strategic and geo-political implications. If India wants to arrive at a solution for RCEP soon much more diplomatic efforts are required with the RCEP nations.Production and post-production competitiveness of Indian products must be boosted to promote exports, which remain critical to maintain a favourable balance of payment situation and create jobs.

If Indian grassroots are marred, domestic surplus is fed to cattle and unemployment moves up because of such FTAs, then what is the purpose of advancing in global trade? By implanting innovative solutions, there are various ways of positioning domestic produce in global value chains. The focus of the Indian economy needs to be on how surplus from the farmers can reach places which are unfed, and national value chains. This will help us achieve optimum allocation of resources. Filing intellectual property rights on domestic produce will protect and help in international market expansion. As the seedling of commerce is growth of revenue, India should focus onexport-oriented strategies than reducing tariff barriers on imports and improve FTAs with RCEP nations.

The US-China “Phase-1” Trade Deal: A Commentary

Story So far

On the 526th day of the US-China trade war, the two superpowers reached an agreement on a trade deal. To be very clear this has been termed as a “Phase-1” trade deal. At this juncture, it’s important to take a step back and see what has transpired in these 500+ days of the trade war and what has finally prompted the two nations to arrive at this deal.

On July 6th, 2018, US triggered the trade war with its first China specific tariffs. Soon followed multiple announcements by both countries declaring tariffs on each other’s goods. China responded immediately by halting their purchase of US produced Soybeans and this marked the beginning of the trade war. 50 days later the first round of talks commenced which ultimately ended in no real breakthrough or decision being taken.

On the 150th day, following a dinner at the G20 summit, a temporary truce was announced to de-escalate trade tensions. A 90-day moratorium was placed in which both nations agreed not to increase or impose any new tariffs. China even lowered tariffs temporarily and resumed buying US Soybeans.  This helped in bringing both parties to the table once more, and multiple negotiations and talks both in Washington and Beijing took place. A key decision that was taken at this stage was to set up Trade Deal Enforcement offices, a positive sign that both countries intended to arrive at a deal. But then again, this positive mood was short lived.

Mr. Trump raised tariffs once more and China responded in Kind. The Huawei fiasco didn’t help relieve the tensions. Both countries set up their own version of a blacklist. Day 348 arrived – Xi and Trump decided to rekindle trade talks that halted. The G20 seems to be a good place for countries to rekindle their friendships. In Osaka, the two premiers decided to meet in person to discuss the trade dispute.

Exceptions and Escalations

Shortly before the schedule G20 meeting, USTR (Office of the US Trade Representative) announced a process by which US interested parties can request the exclusion of certain Chinese products subject to additional tariffs. A great gesture but signs that the US has started to feel the pain. A tentative truce was reached days before the G20 summit.

A year had almost gone by since the beginning of the trade war. US and China agreed to restart trade talks and Mr Trump even suggested relaxing some of the restrictions placed on Huawei. But hardly 10 days pass by and Mr Trump threatened to introduce a new set of Tariffs. Name calling and Tit-for-Tat tariffs continued, and the tariff war started escalating once again.

The 13th round of trade talks were held in Washington and further exceptions and delays were announced in the scheduled tariffs.

On the 463rd day was the first time the “Phase-1” deal was announced but it still required several more weeks to finalize. The following weeks saw more exclusions being announced and a phone call that resulted in an “in-principle” approval on the trade points. The tariff roll back was discussed for the first time and both sides agreed to a proportionate and simultaneous roll back once the deal was signed.

A few statements by Mr Trump sent mixed signals to the world but on the 526th day, 13th of December 2019, the Phase one deal was officially announced.

Terms of the deal

While neither side has released specific details, here are the largely quoted terms of the deal –

  • The US will not to proceed with 15 percent tariffs on US$160 billion worth of consumer goods scheduled to take effect December 15 and will reduce the September 1 tariffs on US$120 billion of Chinese goods – halving it from 15 to 7.5 percent. However, the 25 percent tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese imports will maintain, and further reductions will be linked to progress in future trade negotiations.
  • China has not publicly confirmed much of this, especially the purchase agreements, but on its part will increase the purchase of US goods and services by at least US$200 billion over the next two years. It has agreed to suspend retaliatory tariffs also scheduled for Sunday, implement intellectual property safeguards, and have a tariff exclusion process in place. It appears that among its potential purchases, China will import US agricultural products worth US$40 billion to US$50 billion – in each of the next two years.

Impact of the deal

  • Does this deal have an impact on US trade deficit with China? While there is a commitment from China to increase purchase of US agricultural produce, energy, pharmaceuticals and financial services, no hard targets were mentioned.
  • Intellectual property rights have been a hotly contested topic during this trade war, and the Phase-1 deal includes stronger Chinese legal protections for patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc. It also mentions commitments from China to follow through on previous promises to remove / eliminate any pressure on foreign companies to transfer technology to Chinese firms as a condition for market access.
  • Currency was another key point in the trade negotiations. China was accused of manipulating its currency for trade advantage. The deal contains language that includes pledges by China to refrain from such activities.

How will these be enforced? There is a dispute resolution arrangement which finally results in tariffs being imposed on the faulting party.

Is the Trade – War finally over?

No, the trade war isn’t over. This is a welcome change of tone from both sides and a temporary relief to world markets. It has helped reduce the tensions. While the Americans have pressed the Chinese negotiators to give commitments on hard amounts, the Chinese have agreed to market demands only.

Therefore, we can expect more tweets but given that the elections are closing in, Mr. Trump will be otherwise occupied with the upcoming impeachment trials and his own re-election. This might have also prompted the Americans to reach a deal in the first place. It is impossible to predict the future, but one can hope that for now the Tit-for-Tat tariff war is probably on hold.

Inclusive Growth in India

Absolute poverty has fallen substantially over the last couple of years, with most of this decline contributing positively to rapid economic growth in developing countries. However, the acknowledgment that economic growth often does not meet the needs of the poor has encouraged the current discussion on the need for inclusive growth. Economic growth in the absence of measures to ensure the sustained impartial and reasonable distribution of the benefits of growth has frequently disseminated the concentration of wealth in the hands of those already better off. As a consequence, Governments and donors in many developing countries have come to comprehend that in order to considerably reduce poverty they must promote inclusive growth. A commonly used definition, employed by the World Bank, which defines inclusive growth as an absolute reduction in poverty associated with the creation of productive employment rather than direct income redistribution schemes. The World Bank maintains that inclusive growth should take into account both ‘the pace and pattern of growth’; these are considered to be linked and should therefore be addressed together.

Defining inclusive growth, rapid pace of economic growth is necessary for substantial poverty reduction and for the growth to be sustainable in the long run, it must be broad based across sectors and inclusive of large part of a country’s labour force.

Promoting inclusive growth requires policymakers to address both growth and income distribution, so it requires an understanding of the relationships between growth, poverty and inequality. Economic growth is a prerequisite for poverty reduction when income distribution is held constant. The acknowledgment that inequality affects the impact of growth on poverty reduction has led to a broad agreement that it is necessary to look beyond a ‘growth-first’ agenda in order to successfully deliver inclusive growth.

A robust inclusive growth strategy will complement policies to stimulate economic growth with those that foster equality of opportunity, alongside a social security net to protect the most vulnerable. As such, economic policies to promote structural transformation and create productive employment for poor people will need to be complemented by investments in human capital and other programmes to support social inclusion and equal access to jobs.

The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are

Countries have committed themselves to time-bound targets of prosperity, people, planet, peace, partnership (five P’s) keeping in line with the United Nations 2030 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Paris Agreement, which is part of the SDG framework, requires every country to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century (Masson-Delmotte et al. 2018). In order to achieve results in SDG, policy frameworks adopted by the Governments play a crucial role. The three principle layers to measure government efforts to implement the long-term objectives of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement:

  • High-level public statements by governments in support of sustainable development [monitored by- a) tracking the existence and the content of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) under the High-Level Political Forum for the 2030 Agenda; b) monitoring heads-of-states’ and cabinet members’ speeches in support of the goals];
  • Strategic use of public practices and procedures for the goals (coordination mechanisms, budget, procurement, human resource management, data and audits);
  • Content of government strategies and policy actions.

The SDG index summaries countries’ current performance and trends on the 17 SDGs.India ranks 115 in 2019.

In the context of India’s inclusive growth trajectory, the strategies of Inclusive growth and development came into the attention in the progressing policies of emerging market economies (EMEs) with higher economic growth rates. With an accelerated economic growth rate, Indian policy makers too moved their concentration on Inclusive growth and expansion while formulating the 12th five-year plan.Thus, the plan targeted deprived sections of the Indian population, health, employment, rural urban infrastructure, women and child development and social security measures against the backdrop of the strategy.

From a peak of 8.1% in the fourth quarter of 2017-18, growth in gross domestic product (GDP) has now decelerated to a six-year low of 5% in the fiscal first quarter, with a slowdown visible across all sectors. Particularly important in this context is the compression of government expenditure, Central government revenue grown only 6% last year, more than 11% short of the budget estimate. Accordingly, expenditure growth was compressed to 6.9% last year, down from more than 11% the year before. Weak revenue growth meant devolution to states also fell short, forcing them to cut expenditure. This compression of government spending at a time when all major components of aggregate demand were already slowing has been an important driver of the sharp decline in economic growth. The country is now requiring an inclusive macroeconomic strategy to revive aggregate demand in the short run, while initiating structural reforms to sustain growth over the long-term. For inclusive growth in India macroeconomic activities, initiated and supported by the government, should be planned to uplift the standard of living of common people and must not be concentrated only to increase the pace of the growth process.

In this regard, while assessing India’s progress on SDG, we note that India submitted the VNR in 2017 and is due in 2020 again. According to VNR 2017 developed by NITI Aayog, Government of India is strongly committed to Agenda 2030, including the SDG.

Following goals were focused on performing SDG India Index at State level:

·         SDG 1: No Poverty

·         SDG 2: Zero Hunger

·         SDG 4: Quality Education

·         SDG 5: Gender Equality

·         SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

·         SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

·         SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

·         SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

·         SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

·         SDG 15: Life on Land

·         SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

The Index tracks the progress of all the States and UTs on a set of 62 Priority Indicators, measuring their progress on the outcomes of the interventions and schemes of the Government of India. The SDG India Index is intended to provide a holistic view on the social, economic and environmental status of the country and its States and UTs. A composite score was computed for each State and UT of India based on their aggregate performance across 13 of the 17 SDGs. The SDG Index Score for Sustainable Development Goals 2030 ranges between 42 and 69 for States and between 57 and 68 for UTs. Among the States, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh are the front runners with an SDG India Index score of 69. Among the UTs, Chandigarh is a front runner with a score of 68.

Need for inclusive growth strategy

According to the Planning Commission of India (Planning Commission, 2007), the concept “Inclusion” should be seen as a process of including the excluded as agents whose participation is essential in the development process, and not welfare targets of development programs.

In the context of the above interpretation of the term, sustained inclusive growth in India possibly requires changes in prevailing growth approach and a definite line of deed to include the excluded representatives. After pursuing the current growth strategy for a long time, economic inequality in India is still very severe.

Key elements of inclusive growth

 Since globalization, significant improvement in India’s economic and social development made the nation to grow strongly in the 21st century. The following factors encouraged India to concentrate more on inclusive growth:

  • India is the 7th largest country by area and 2nd by population. It is the 12th largest economy at market exchange rate and 4th largest by PPP. Yet, India is far away from the development of the neighbourhood nation, i.e., China.
  • The exclusion in terms of low agriculture growth, low quality employment growth, low human development, rural-urban divides, gender and socialite qualities, and regional disparities etc. are the problems for the nation.
  • Reducing poverty and other disparities and raising economic growth is the key objectives of the nation through inclusive growth.
  • There are so many studies that estimate that the cost of corruption in India amounts to over 10% of GDP. Corruption is one of the ills that prevent inclusive growth.
  • Although child labour has been banned by the law in India and there are stringent provisions to deter this inhuman practice, still, many children in India are unaware of education as their lives are spoiled to labour work.
  • Literacy levels have to rise to provide the skilled workforce, required for higher growth.
  • Economic reforms in the country are overwhelmed by outdated philosophies and allegations by the politicians and opposition parties in India.
  • Achievement of 9% of GDP growth for country as a whole is one of the boosting factors which gives the importance to the Inclusive growth in India.
  • Inclusiveness benchmarked against achievement of monitor able targets related to
    • Income &Poverty
    • Education
    • Health
    • Women & Children
    • Infrastructure
    • Environment
  • Even at international level also, there is a concern about inequalities and exclusion and now they are also taking about inclusive approach for development.

Impact of Inclusive Growth

In the context of the above findings about income disparities and economic inequality in India, it appears that certain fundamental changes are to be initiated in the growth strategy to adequately enhance productive employment opportunities for the economically weaker sections of people. Accessing opportunity in the growth process by the hitherto excluded poor, low-income and the unemployed is to be ensured for any meaningful implementation of inclusive growth in India.

Extension of irrigation facility in India is one area which needs instantaneous attention in the interest of inclusive growth in the country. Conservative estimates show that nearly 60% of India’s arable land is rain dependent. It means only 40% of agricultural land is fully under all-season irrigation facility. Another estimate shows that yearly average rainfall in India is 3 lakh cubic feet and only one third of that is retained in the country and two lakh cubic feet drains down to sea. It implies that without distressing the ground water level and just by using a considerable part of the unutilized rainfall, irrigation capacity can be extended immensely. Hence, adequate investments to quickly extend the spread of minor/major labour-intensive irrigation projects will not only improve land yield but also provide access route of the previously excluded agents to enter the growth process. Certainly, there are hurdles for jumpstart extension of irrigation facility; but the hurdles should not be impossible in the interest of common people of India.

Secondly, everybody agrees that in the present global economic scenario, educated workers are more productive than illiterate labours. However, according to Census Data of India nearly 26% Indians were not literate at all in 2011 which is far below world average. Hence, erasing illiteracy and massive expansion of primary and technical education can enhance labour productivity and gainful employment opportunity of the excluded agents in the current growth process.

Thirdly, In India 70% of health-related expenditure is made by individuals and only 30% is spent by the government – just the opposite scenario of many countries. It is also estimated that only due to increasing medical expenditure 38 million Indians are joining below-poverty-line population every year. Hence for a meaningful inclusive growth and poverty reduction, massive extension of affordable healthcare, control of drug prices, free availability of drinking water and sanitation facilities are to be ensured.

Emphasis on the building of physical infrastructure, particularly roadways, railways, ports and cold chains, is another area which is to be improved rapidly. In a huge country like India physical infrastructure is far behind Asian front-runners. But targeted development of physical infrastructure can create large scale employment opportunity to the army of unskilled/semi-skilled workers in India.


Thus, the key implications from the above discussed concept of inclusive growth would essentially include ensuring fiscal health of India with ever increasing role of government in the economic sphere, effective use of resources and increasing devolution and decentralisation, strengthening competitive pressures, transforming workforce structure, size, and human resource management arrangements, changing budget practices and procedures, and introducing results-oriented approaches to budgeting and management thereby enhancing efficiency of public sector to achieve sustainable development goals. With an improved go-to-policy response of the Government, a conducive environment with a well-functioning financial structure provided by the government can help other relevant stakeholders and achieve broad based impacts on the economy.

Today, Indian companies too are mapping their business actions to SDGs. Broadly, companies focus on SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work), SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation). Existing programmes of companies are also being linked to SDG while some are linking to their branding efforts. Essentially, the SDGs have the potential to provide a framework for mobilizing corporates to invest in sustainable development in an ongoing and scalable way while keeping their business interests intact. The SDG serves guidelines for businesses to assess and manage social, economic and environmental risk, while contributing to bettering their reputation, image and their strategic position in the world’s markets.

As inclusive growth is considered as a prime focus by the Government, policy reforms in this respect have a critical yet broad-based impact on industries and market. All players in the system are affected in a certain matter depending on nature of its business. In today’s scenario, amidst all the global happenings we pause to look at the domestic prevalent factors from a fiscal angle that drive businesses and contribute to markets and economy at large.