World Trade Organization Current Affairs - 2019

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‘Odisha Rasagola’ gets GI Tag

After years of controversy around sweet, Rasagola, a popular dessert of Odisha, has received Geographical Indication (GI) tag in GI Registry from Registrar of Geographical Indication. Both Odisha and West Bengal have been contesting origin of rasagola and West Bengal had got GI for ‘Banglar Rasogolla’ in 2017.

As per Historical records submitted Odisha Rasagola has an age-old tradition and is associated with world famous Puri Jagannath Temple as it is offered to Lord Jagannath as part of bhog since centuries.

Key Highlights

Registration was conferred on Odisha Rasagola under Section 16(I)/ of authorised Section 17(3)(c) of Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999. GI Tag number 612 (which is 2nd received by Odisha after Kandhamal Haldi) has been registered in favour of Odisha Small Industries Corporation Ltd. (OSIC Ltd.) and and Utkal Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti in foodstuff category. OSIC Ltd. is a Government of Odisha undertaking and Utkal Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti is a traders’ organisation.

Uniqueness of Odisha Rasagola: As per application submitted to Registrar of GI for GI status-

  • Method: Odisha Rasagola is a sweet from state of Odisha made of chhena (cottage cheese) cooked in sugar syrup, which is very soft to feel, is juicy and non- chewy in consistency and can be swallowed without pressure from teeth.
  • Colour development of Odisha Rasagola is very specific, where without addition of external colour, various intensely-coloured rasagolas are prepared using principle of caramelisation of sugar with a very specific methods of preparation.
  • Ancient: Reference of rasagola was found in late 15th century, Odia (Dandi) Ramayana written by Balaram Das.

What is meaning of Geographical Indication Tag?

GI tag for a particular product, which experts call Legal Right, recognises it as distinctive to a particular locality/region/country. As a World Trade Organization (WTO) member country, India had enacted Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999. This act came into force from 2003.

CBIC organises meeting of WCO’s Asia Pacific Region

Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), under Ministry of Finance is organising a meeting of Regional Heads of Customs Administration of Asia Pacific Region of World Customs Organisation (WCO) in Kochi (in Kerela) from 8th to 10th May, 2019.

As India currently holds seat of Vice Chairperson of Asia Pacific region (assumed on 1 July 2018) for a two-year period, it is hosting this meeting in this capacity.

Key Highlights of Meeting

  • It will discuss about progress being made in carrying forward various initiatives and programmes of WCO, in promoting, securing and facilitating cross-border trade in Asia Pacific region. It will also look into capacity building and technical assistance required to achieve this goal.
  • Pranab Kumar Das, Chairman of CBIC will chair the meeting.
  • Participants: includes customs delegations from over 20 countries of Asia Pacific region and senior officials of WCO and its regional bodies namey Regional Intelligence Liaoning Office (RILO) and Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB).
  • Key Focus Areas: of meeting includes, implementation of trade facilitation measures, building capacity of small island economies (in Asia pacific region), cross-border e-commerce transactions, performance measurement, trusted trader programmes, and on-going review of Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC).

About WCO

  • It was established in 1952 as Customs Co-operation Council (CCC) and in 1994 it adopted its current name World Customs Organisation (WCO).
  • It is headquartered in Brussels (in Belgium).
  • It is an independent intergovernmental body, which seeks to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations.
  • It is only intergovernmental organisation which exclusively focuses on Customs matters.
  • One of its crucial role is to streamline cross border procedures and enhance security of global trade.
  • The governing body of WCO is ‘WCO Council’, which brings together all Members of Organization one time every year.
  • Functions: to maintain international Harmonized System (HS, also known as Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System) of tariff nomenclature, and to administer technical aspects of World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements on Customs Valuation and Rules of Origin.
  • Members: It represents 182 Customs administrations globally (which collectively undergoes about 98% of world trade). Its membership is divided into 6 regions. Each of these six Regions is represented by regionally elected Vice-Chairperson to WCO’s Council. India holds Vice Chair of Asia Pacific region of WCO for a two-year period.