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Indian Trade Service (ITS): Exam, Roles, Divisions and Career at a Glance – Important Read in 2021

The ITS Officer was first introduced in 1986. Department of Commerce is the Cadre Controlling Authority for the Indian Trade Service, and the day-to-day management of the Cadre has been delegated to the DGFT.

The Indian Trade Service, Group ‘A’ Civil Service, was created as a specialized cadre to handle India’s international trade & commerce based on the recommendations of the Mathur Committee in 1965.

Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) is an Attached Office under the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The authorized strength of ITS, as on date, is 191, comprising of 72 posts of Assistant DGFT at JTS level, 44 posts of Deputy DGFT at STS level (inclusive of NFSG), 48 posts of Joint DGFT at JAG level and 26 posts of Additional DGFT at SAG level and one post at the HAG level. Cadre Review of the ITS has recently been completed.

An ITS officer starts his career in Group A as Assistant Director-General of Foreign Trade. Recruitment at this level is through the CSE conducted by UPSC. The Indian Trade Service Recruitment Rules regulate the selection and career prospects of an ITS officer.

ITS officers play a crucial role in the promotion of India’s foreign trade and thus help in earning foreign exchange which is essential to the economy. ITS officers act as a protector of interests of the country’s trading community. ITS officers at the same time play the role of a guide and mentor to budding exporters as well as established exporters.

Roles of Indian Trade Service Officers

Role in Directorate General of Foreign Trade

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), prompt known as CCI&E, a body created under the Foreign Trade (Development & Regulation) Act (FTDR Act), is the regulator and facilitator of Foreign Trade in India.

DGFT is entrusted with the task of formulating and implementing the Foreign Trade Policy of India from time to time to facilitate the growth of India’s external trade in goods and services while making critical inputs required for growth of India’s manufacturing and service sectors.

The primary role of the Indian Trade Service in this organization is to:

Role in the Department of Commerce

As the nodal Department in the affairs of India’s external trade, the mandate of the Department of Commerce (DOC) is the formulation of appropriate policies and implementation thereof for development, promotion and regulation of India’s international trade and commerce.

The role is to facilitate the creation of enabling environment and infrastructure for accelerated growth of India’s trade in goods and services. The Department negotiates external trade negotiations and trade agreements at multilateral, regional and bilateral levels.

This Department is also the nodal point for interaction with international agencies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United National Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), as well as the group of countries including issues like tariff and non-tariff barriers, international commodity agreements, preferential/ free trade arrangements, and investment matters, etc.

The members of the service also handle some other critical areas of the Department, such as:

  1. Formulating India’s negotiating position in the WTO;
  2. Expressing India’s negotiating position in Preferential / Regional / Bilateral Trade Agreements such as
  3. Free Trade Agreements,
  4. Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements;
  5. Trade Disputes;
  6. Trade Policies;
  7. Commodities Divisions;
  8. State Trading Enterprises;
  9. ASIDE Scheme.

Role in World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The officers of the Indian Trade Serviceman some of the critical positions in the Trade Policy Division of the Department of Commerce, which deals with the multilateral trade negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Some of the areas within the WTO multilateral system that the capital-based officers negotiate are non-agricultural market access (NAMA); rules on trade remedy measures likes anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard; dispute settlement; information technology agreement (ITA); rules of origin; Globalized System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) and government procurement.

The work entails the formulation or finalization of India’s negotiating position, conducting stakeholder consultations, extraction of trade data, data analysis, preparation of India’s tariff schedule, consulting during meetings at the WTO and development of policy papers or Cabinet notes for the negotiations.

Role in Directorate General of Anti-Dumping

The DGAD was established in 1998 to provide an organizational structure to implement the WTO Agreement on Antidumping (ADA) and Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM) and the corresponding municipal laws. Many ITS officers are posted in DGAD from time to time.

The Directorate conducts the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy/countervailing investigations. It makes recommendations to the Central Government for the imposition of anti-dumping or countervailing measures, where appropriate, to protect the domestic industry from unfair trade practices of the trading partners in the form of dumping and subsidization.

Role in Other Ministries

Besides working in the Ministry of Commerce, ITS officers serve various other ministries/departments/Organizations/ in centre and states from time to time. Officers have excelled in ministries like Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Ministry of Power, Ministry of Home Affairs etc. One post each in Ministry of External Affairs (Deputy Secretary post), Ministry of Textiles (Joint Secretary post) and Ministry of Agriculture (Joint Secretary post) have been reserved for ITS officers.

Career Prospects at a Glance

As per the current Cadre Structure and ITS officer can rise up-to-the HAG Scale at the level of Additional Secretary to the GoI rising through the posts of Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Joint Secretary.

Besides serving within the country, there are potential opportunities available to help in Commercial consulates in the Indian Missions abroad, WTO, UN bodies like UNCTAD etc.

There are other trade-related bodies like Export Promotion Councils, Commodity Boards, Trade Advisor/Commissioner in states, FICCI, CII etc., where the expertise of ITS officers will be required, and creation of new roles in these bodies are expected in future. The purpose of ITS officers is expected to increase also in the activities to facilitate trade under Make in India and hand-holding new generation entrepreneurs to start export businesses under Niryat Bandhu and Start-Up India initiative.

Divisions of ITS Officers


The Indian Trade Service, Group ‘A’ Civil Service, was created as a specialized cadre to handle India’s international trade & commerce based on the recommendations of the Mathur Committee in 1965.

The first batch of ITS Officers joined in 1986. Department of Commerce is the Cadre Controlling Authority for the Indian Trade Service, and the day-to-day management of the Cadre has been delegated to the DGFT.

Areas covered in this article

P.S. You can check the official UPSC ITS Exam notification with the help of below-mentioned link-

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