The commerce ministry is working with other ministries to identify specific service segments with a view to handhold them to boost their exports. Nirmala Sitharaman, who held the Commerce and Industry portfolio before being named the Defence Minister in today’s Cabinet reshuffle, said India is emerging as a service hub in areas like tourism, healthcare, wellness and entertainment and the Global Exhibition on Services (GES) is providing a great fillip to the sector.
GES, organised by the ministry, provides a platform to explore market opportunities across the world and meet global counterparts. “We have felt that impact of GES has really brought in lot of people who are recognising the role of Indian service exports. Therefore which are the sectors which should get priority,” she told PTI.
The minister said that about 20 sectors were taken up in the last GES, so now “can we spread all our resources on all of them or is it necessary for us to focus on some sectors and if at all we have to focus on some sectors… which are those focus sectors that we have to concentrate on to make a beginning?”
A lot of inter-ministerial discussions are happening on this issue, Sitharaman said.
In the last GES, held in April, 20 services sectors were focused upon, including information technology, tourism and hospitality, logistics, education and financial services. “We are consulting with all the ministries. The discussions are on. It is to see how best and which sector has to be prioritised so that we can focus on them to start with and then we can look at other sectors also,” she added.
The services sector assumes significance as it contributes about 60 per cent to the country’s GDP.
India’s services exports increased from USD 52 billion in 2005 to USD 155 billion in 2015, with a share of 3.3 per cent in global services exports.
The country is also pitching for a trade facilitation agreement in services in the World Trade Organisation and it has submitted a proposal regarding this. It is aimed at reducing transaction costs by doing away with unnecessary regulatory and administrative burden on trade in services.