The commerce ministry will soon approach various ministries to further improve the ease of doing businesses and the competitiveness of exporters, as it desperately seeks to find ways to boost exports that have contracted for a 13th straight month through December.
After a meeting with a dozen-odd export promotion councils (EPCs) that last over two hours, commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said: “We will follow up with ministries of environment, textiles and finance as well as customs authorities for easing out few more things related to export promotion so that there is an ease of doing business from the exporters point of view.”
Issues such as the impact of India-Asean free trade agreement on the country’s exports, non-tariff barriers in other countries, currency volatility, special economic zones, services tax and problems in dealing with customs officials were flagged by the councils, apart from various incentives sought by them. Asean is a ten-member block of south-sast Asian nations. Industry has been complaining that the Asean FTA has benefitted other members much more than India, which is facing high level of “dumping” from these nations.
TPP to hurt exports
Separately, in a late-evening event on Monday, Sitharaman said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a mega free trade deal between the US and 11 other Asia-Pacific nations, will likely affect India’s exports indirectly in several sectors, including textiles, pharmaceuticals, plastics, leather, apart from having an impact on investment flows, labour standards and intellectual property rights.
The challenges from the TPP could be similar to those experienced by India in the aftermath of the economic liberalisation in 1991, she added. The external affairs ministry has undertaken a study in the context of the TPP, and it will submit its suggestions in the next six months on appropriate policy response India should adopt.