The government should iron out the issues hindering the signing of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with the US and the EU nations as domestic exporters are at a disadvantage due to the absence of these agreements, a parliamentary panel has recommended in a report submitted on Saturday.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce chaired by YSR Congress leader Vijaysai Reddy submitted the report to Chairman of Rajya Sabha Venkaiah Naidu, wherein it has expressed concern that India’s exports contracted from 2019-20, registering a negative growth rate of (-) 15.73 percent in 2020.
In view of the crucial role played by exports in the overall economic growth of a country, the Committee in the report opined that “India needs to step up its effort in export promotion, expand its export baskets and penetrate new export markets to recover from its current slump and increase its share in global exports”.
The panel also underlined that the Indian exporters are at a ‘disadvantage’ in the US and the European markets while competing with other exporting nations due to the absence of FTAs with the US and the EU countries. “The Committee recommends the Department of Commerce to iron out the issues that hindered the signing of FTAs with our leading trade partners and enter into trade agreements that are beneficial for our country while balancing the interest of the domestic market with that of our exporters,” the report stated.
The panel also expressed concern that the share of rail freight vis–vis road is only 35 percent whereas the trend is reversed in developed countries. The Committee, therefore, recommends the Ministry of Railways to undertake a detailed study on the reason for low share of rail and take a concerted effort to increase the share of rail in freight traffic, the report said.
At the same time, the panel said, it is “disheartening to note that the Ministry of Railways is unable to provide competitive freight rate for movement of export consignment.” The Committee feels that this will adversely affect the competitiveness of India’s exports in global markets as freight cost plays a crucial role in determining the final price of the product, as per the report.
The panel undertook an in-depth examination of export-oriented measures and held seven meetings with all stakeholders spanning over for nearly twenty hours, it said. The panel led by Reddy, who is a noted chartered accountant, in the report recommended the government to take appropriate measures, relook its export strategies and policies to achieve a positive growth rate of exports and higher share in global exports markets.