With exports shrinking since December last year, the Modi government on Tuesday said it will shortly operationalise a Trade Facilitation Council (TFC) comprising members of the Centre and states to boost overseas shipments and urged state governments to soon bring out their respective trade policies.
Among other measures in the offing to promote a healthy competition between states on the foreign trade front is the release of state-wise exports data on a regular basis, according to an official.
Already, 14 states including Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have framed export strategy/policy, and 21 states have appointed export commissioners to ensure ease of carrying out foreign trade and expedite the development of infrastructure.
The council will be headed by commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the concerned ministers from the state governments and secretaries of key ministries/departments.
Commerce secretary Rita Teaotia will discuss with state government officials on July 15 ways to ensure greater involvement of state governments in the country’s export promotion strategy. The meeting will also take up issues related to the exports sector including the regulatory environment in the states, and infrastructure problems including electricity availability as well as road and telecom network. Issues of local taxes and its refund will also figure in the discussion. The commerce ministry is also in discussion with states regarding a list of infrastructure projects that can help boost exports.
Shipments contracted — for the sixth consecutive month — in May by (-)20.19% to $22.35 billion due to softening of crude oil, metal and commodity prices besides weak demand in major overseas markets such as China, the OPEC and Eurozone, a relatively stronger rupee and domestic bottlenecks.
The government is aiming to help the country meet $900 billion exports target by 2019-20.
The focus areas for the government include project exports, spices, defence and hi-tech items, besides the services sector. It is also aiming to revive investment inflow into special economic zones and boost exports from these enclaves.