NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday assured top corporate leaders, at the reconstituted 70-member Board of Trade, that the government will focus on six major areas, including special economic zones (SEZs), export credit and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, (MSMEs), to boost exports which have been in the negative since December 2014.
The board meeting was attended by senior officials from various ministries, industry chambers, representatives of export promotion councils, corporates including ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar, Biocon MD Kiran Majumdar-Shaw, Dr Reddy’s MD Satish Reddy.
“Government is committed. The Prime Minister has been very keen that we engage with stakeholders where we can do small or big things to facilitate and help the exporters,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
The specific focus areas identified for action by the commerce ministry include improving ease of doing business in SEZs; according priority sector status to export credit; involving embassies to promote trade; incentives for organic food sector.
The minister also assured, her ministry will hold a meeting with the Ambassadors, High Commissioners with their commercial and economic wings by involving the Ministry of External Affairs.
During the meeting, industry raised the issue of minimum alternate tax on SEZs; problems in getting credit for MSMEs, impacts of free trade pacts, inverted duty structure, matters related to USFDA and extending line of credit to boost exports. She said that the board meeting happened at a time when “we are facing severe challenges. It is not easy for exporters”.
She also said that the ministry discussed ways to resolve issues of bulk drugs industry, seafood industry, bio-tech and electronics.
On the bulk drug issue, she said the ministry has discussed the matter with teh fertilizer minister and the environment minister.
CII President Naushad Forbes said that India’s exports are highly dependent on primary goods and labour intensive low value added manufactured goods and its share in high value added is very less.
He also called for diversification of services exports and reforming the standards regime in India. Expressing concern over falling exports, Gem Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) Chairman Praveenshankar Pandya in the meeting said that the country’s overall gems and jewellery exports are likely to drop by 16 per cent in 2015-16 fiscal for the first time in last 40 years.