ICRIER, an economic think tank, has recommended that the government include targeted measures in its upcoming foreign trade strategy to increase women's participation in global commerce and incorporate them as essential stakeholders in free trade agreement talks.According to the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) policy brief Women and Trade: Towards an Enabling Ecosystem in India, support for internationalisation of women-owned enterprises through targeted measures to boost women's participation in international trade has lagged. 'It is recommended that the upcoming foreign trade policy... (can) be used to mainstream gender in the national trade agenda,' it said.'The recognition of the gender-specific impediments and vulnerabilities that women entrepreneurs face should be reflected in both the vision and strategy, with a holistic focus on export promotion, integration in global value chains, ease of doing business, and trade facilitation just as MSMEs have been explicitly acknowledged to have strategic significance, especially with regard to manufacturing and employment generation, and are accordingly identified for focussed interventions to boost exports,' the council said in a statement.Foreign trade policy (FTP) is a five-year document developed by the commerce ministry that lays forth principles for increasing exports in order to boost economic growth and create jobs. The government announces incentives for products and services exporters under this programme.The present policy (from 2015 to 2022) will come to an end in March 2022.A National Council for Women's Entrepreneurship, chaired by the Prime Minister, has also been proposed by the think tank.Gender-disaggregated data and statistics on trade participation and performance, as well as regular gender stakeholder engagements, are essential for informed policy-making and effect assessment, according to the report.It went on to say that these should be a part of the institutional framework across the board, including relevant ministries, affiliated regulatory agencies, export promotion councils, and specific product marketing boards.'...India should also include women entrepreneurs as important stakeholders in domestic consultations on free trade agreements (FTAs) and their aspirations and concerns should be reflected in the final texts through gender-responsive provisions,' it said.Historically, India has been hesitant of tying concerns such as human rights, labour standards, gender, and the environment with trade, both bilaterally and multilaterally, seeing such links as 'veiled protectionism,' according to the report.'However, with the global discourse veering towards inclusiveness in trade and sustainability, more so in the context of the COVID 19 pandemic, India should embrace a more flexible and pragmatic approach and not lag behind the curve,' it suggested.An FTA allows two trading partners to decrease or eliminate customs charges on a large number of items they trade. They also liberalise standards in order to promote service trade and investment.