Govt seeks greater industry role in boosting exports

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, who has already held scores of meetings with various state-run as well as industry bodies, has also proposed to reduce the compliance burden of India Inc, which will help boost exports as well.

Having hit a monthly record of $35.7 billion in October, merchandise exports dropped below the $30-billion mark in November. Exports still registered a 26.5% rise in November from a year before but it was the lowest growth rate this fiscal.
Having hit a monthly record of $35.7 billion in October, merchandise exports dropped below the $30-billion mark in November. Exports still registered a 26.5% rise in November from a year before but it was the lowest growth rate this fiscal.

The commerce ministry has asked state-backed export councils and key industry bodies to work more closely with various government departments and overseas missions, and suggest, through research and studies, “relevant areas for intervention”, as part of its broader effort to realise the lofty $400-billion export target for FY22.

Having successfully weathered the damage caused by two Covid waves, Indian exporters face fresh uncertainties now from the emergence of a new Covid variant in Africa that can further disrupt the already-burdened global supply chains.

For its part, the ministry is planning to bring in a new set of reforms to invigorate special economic zones (SEZs), once considered to be drivers of export growth in future, under an “SEZ-plus” initiative, an official source told FE. The new plan could include revised norms for SEZs to sell in the domestic market at lower duties and easier exit route for loss-making firms in these duty-free enclaves.

The ministry also wants industry to take advantage of various production-linked incentive schemes and identify areas of benefits from potential free trade agreements with key economies. It also wants export bodies to raise the issue of non-tariff barriers posed by any country so that New Delhi can put in place appropriate retaliatory measures. At the same time, it has asked industry bodies to be “vocal about local” and more proactive in their approach to bolster exports.

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, who has already held scores of meetings with various state-run as well as industry bodies, has also proposed to reduce the compliance burden of India Inc, which will help boost exports as well.

In September, the government also decided to release `56,027 crore to clear all the pending dues owed to exporters until FY21 under various schemes to ease any liquidity crunch. A major part of the funds will be released in the last quarter of this fiscal.

Merchandise exports fluctuated between $250 billion and $330 billion since FY11; the highest export of $330 billion was achieved in FY19. In the first eight months of this fiscal, exports hit as much as $262.5 billion. However, a slowdown in export growth in November, amid persistent bottlenecks in the global supply-chain such as elevated shipping costs and container shortage, brings to the fore new risks.

Having hit a monthly record of $35.7 billion in October, merchandise exports dropped below the $30-billion mark in November. Exports still registered a 26.5% rise in November from a year before but it was the lowest growth rate this fiscal.

Adding to exporters’ woes, some countries in Europe, a major market, have already imposed travel and other curbs in the wake of the emergence of the new Covid strain, which last week led the World Trade Organization to defer its ministerial meeting. China, another key market for India, has also seen a surge in Covid cases of late. While some experts have suggested against undue anxiety over the ferocity of the new variant, some others have advised a cautious approach.

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