been difficult for exporters.
"Domestic issues like poor infrastructure, increasing transactions cost and some procedural hurdles are huge challenges for exporters," FIEO President Rafeeq Ahmed said.
Sharing similar views, Rakesh Mohan Joshi, internal trade expert and Professor with India's prestigious Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) said the ballooning trade deficit poses serious challenges to the government.
"2012 was not a good year for India's exports. Trade deficit touched an all-time high. It is matter of serious concern for the government and I do not even see 2013 as a better for them (exports). Situation may improve, but marginally," Joshi said.
He said the condition in Europe is not satisfactory and there are no signs of improvement.
"Along with global issues, domestic conditions are also not good. There is a strong need to boost investments in the manufacturing sector," he added.
Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman A Sakthivel too said 2012 was one of the most challenging years.
"We witnessed lower buyer sentiments due to sluggish market condition," he said. Sectors which contribute maximum in the country's exports have been registering negative growth since April-November period of this fiscal.
While exports of engineering and gems and jewellery items contracted by 5.3 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, that of cotton yarn, jute, readymade garments and handicrafts shrunk by 11 per cent, 14 per cent, 8 per cent and 65 per cent, respectively, during April-November period of the current fiscal.
"This is a matter of serious concern to us. They are directly linked to job creation and job sustenance," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has said.
However, the government is making every effort to support exporters. Sharma has recently announced several measures including extension of cheap loan facility for one more year till March 2014.
The minister said those incentives will help in bridging the trade deficit.
The two per cent interest subsidy scheme, which was to end on March 2013 has been extended for one more year. Besides, more sectors have been covered under it with the engineering exporters being the major beneficiaries.
Merchandise shipments to the