The commerce ministry has held a series of meetings on the issue over the last several months and has asked all ministries to work on this, the official said.
The commerce ministry has asked all ministries and departments, including telecom and agriculture, to identify products whose imports can be substituted or reduced to cut India’s high import bill, an official said. The commerce ministry has held a series of meetings on the issue over the last several months and has asked all ministries to work on this, the official said.
Ministries of electronics, heavy industries and public enterprises, fertiliser, information technology and pharmaceuticals, among others, have also been asked to identify products whose import can be cut. India’s imports have increased nine per cent to USD 507.5 billion in 2018-19 from USD 465.6 billion in 2017-18. The country’s top import commodities include crude oil, gold, electronic goods, pulses, fertilisers, machine tools, and pharmaceutical products.
High import bill pushes trade deficit which in turn impacts current account deficit. High imports also affect the country’s foreign currency exchange rates. Trade experts believe that promoting domestic manufacturing will help the country in cutting its high import bill. “Rather than restricting consumption, the government should promote domestic manufacturing to cut import bill,” Rakesh Mohan Joshi, Professor at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), said.
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He also suggested that import duties on luxury goods and non-essential items can be increased. “India should also be cautious in signing free trade agreements with those countries with which we have high trade deficit,” Joshi added.
Last year in September, the government hiked import duty on 19 items including ACs, household refrigerators and washing machines, jet fuel to check the widening current account deficit.