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19th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests
  • India participated in the 19th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests held at the UN Headquarters in New York from 6 to 10 May 2024. During the session, India highlighted the country's significant progress in forest conservation and sustainable forest management. 
  • This has led to a steady increase in forest cover over the past fifteen years. Globally, between 2010 and 2020, India has the third largest net gain in average annual forest cover.
  • India shared the high priority the country has given to biodiversity and wildlife conservation by expanding the protected areas framework to more than a thousand wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, tiger reserves, biodiversity and wildlife habitats. 
  • Recent celebrations marking 50 years of the Tiger Conservation Program and 30 years of the Elephant Conservation Program underscore India's commitment to species conservation and habitat conservation. India also highlighted the creation of the International Big Cat Alliance as another important step aimed at conserving seven tiger species worldwide through joint international efforts.
  • India also shared the introduction of a 'green credit scheme' designed to encourage companies to undertake tree planting and restoration of degraded forest lands. It aims to further strengthen climate action efforts.
  • Earlier, in October last year, India had taken up this initiative under the UN Forestry Organization in Dehradun. It was attended by representatives of 40 countries and 20 international organizations. 
  • Discussions on forest fire management and forest certification were held in the meeting. India presented the recommendations of the initiative at the current meeting.
  • A side event on 'Policies and Strategies for Landscape Integrated Fire Management through Collaborative Governance' was held at the 19th session in New York in collaboration with the Agency for Integrated Rural Fire Management, the Korea Forest Service and the International Tropical Tree Organization.
  • A declaration was issued to halt deforestation and forest degradation, implement the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests and take urgent and accelerated measures to halt land degradation, including achieving the global forest targets.
  • The Indian delegation was accompanied by Director General of Forests and Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India. Jitendra Kumar presided.
4th meeting of ASEAN – India Joint Committee on Merchandise Trade Agreement
  • The 4th Joint Committee Meeting for the Review of Trade in Goods Agreement of ASEAN-India was held on 7-9 May 2024 in Putrajaya, Malaysia, in which Mr. Rajesh Aggarwal, Additional Secretary, Department of Commerce, India, Deputy Secretary General (Trade), Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, Malaysia, Ms. Mastura Ahmad Mustafa were jointly presided over by Representatives of India and 10 ASEAN countries participated in these discussions.
  • Discussions to renegotiate trade agreements, meeting to provide greater trade facilitation for businesses across the region, began in May 2023. The joint task force has met four times so far. 
  • The Joint Committee finalized its terms of reference and negotiating framework for the review negotiations at its first two meetings. AITGA started negotiations for review from its third meeting held on 18-19 February 2024 in New Delhi.
  • A total of 8 sub-committees were constituted to deal with various policy areas of the Agreement during the review, of which 5 sub-committees have commenced their deliberations. All the 5 sub-committees reported the results of their deliberations to the 4th AITIGA Joint Committee. 
  • Subgroups met directly with the 4th AITIGA Joint Group in Putrajaya, Malaysia. The Subcommittee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary met earlier on 3 May 2024. The Committee provided necessary guidelines to the sub-committees.
  • ASEAN is India's major trading partner, accounting for 11 percent of India's global trade. Bilateral trade is estimated at USD 122.67 billion in 2023-24. Development of AITGA will further promote bilateral trade. The two sides are scheduled to meet next at the 5th Joint Group Meeting from 29-31 July 2024 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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