India's merchandise exports are expected to continue with double digit growth in August on account of improving demand in markets such as Africa and the Asian region.
"It is in double digits," Commerce Secretary S R Rao said when asked about exports growth in the month of August.
In July, exports registered a growth rate of 11.64 per cent, the most in nearly two years. They soared to USD 25.83 billion. The August figures are expected this week.
Rao had earlier said that the measures announced by the government to boost exports, including a hike in the rate of interest subsidy, would help shipments to grow in the coming months. In May and June, the overseas shipments were in the negative zone.
India's economic growth fell to a decade's low of 5 per cent in the 2012-13 fiscal. The Current Account Deficit touched a historic high of 4.8 per cent of GDP in 2012-13, mainly on account of import of gold and petroleum products.
During April-July this fiscal, exports grew by 1.72 per cent to USD 98.2 billion. Imports too increased by 2.82 per cent to USD 160.7 billion during the period.
When asked whether government is considering reducing export duty on iron ore, Rao said that the Commerce Ministry has floated a Cabinet note on the matter.
"A (draft) Cabinet note has already been floated because multiple ministries are involved in it," he said on the sidelines of an IIFT function.
He said the ministries of steel, mines and commerce are involved in the issue.
The export duty on iron ore fines stands at 30 per cent. The Mines Ministry is in favour of reduction in the duty, while the Steel Ministry is opposed to the idea.
Exports of iron ore fell from a high of 117.4 million tonnes in 2009-2010 to 18 million tonnes in 2012-2013.
On the issue of restricting imports of non-essential goods, Rao said the exercise is on to identify those products.
He said the government has already put curbs on imports of gold, silver and platinum as it would not hurt exports.
"We are identifying those products which does not go for any value addition or little value addition. The exercise is on. Identification of such products is an arduous process. A sub-committee is also looking into it," he added.
Further, at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), Rao today inaugurated Regional Trade Policy Course (RTPC) being organised by the WTO and the Centre for WTO Studies.
RTPC is a two-month course for government officials from developing countries, LDCs, economies in transition, and countries in the process of accession to the WTO.
"21 participants from 17 countries of Asia-Pacific region will participate in the forthcoming RTPC," he said.
During the 2-month programme, the participants will be given an in-depth exposure to WTO and international trade issues.
The RTPC will seek to enhance the participants' understanding of their regional environment and how it relates to trade-policy making. It will also help develop a good understanding of the WTO, including the Agreements and improve their analytical and negotiating skills.
Besides, it will aim at effective usage of relevant information and documentation on trade-related issues.
The countries represented in the forthcoming RTPC for Asia-Pacific Region include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
Rao said the course will enhance the understanding the changing pattern in the global trade.
"The world trade has grown by 24 times. But complexities of doing business has also grown. There are tariff and non-tariff barriers. NTBs are increasingly become more pronounced as we are intensifying our global engagement," he said.
In 1996, the world trade was unipolar and now it has shifted to the Asian region, he stated.
"We have the most populous and emerging markets in Asia," he said, adding "things are very complex in global trade. How do you respond to the coming challenges. Participants will learn all these in the RTPC."