Exports to hit record high this year amid global challenges: Commerce secy

  • 23-Oct-2018
  • Exports to hit record high this year amid global challenges: Commerce secy

Even as the global environment has become very challenging, Indian exports are expected to touch record figures as they have already been seeing a consistent growth trajectory for the past two-and-a-half years, said a senior official from the Government of India.  

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with exporters in Chennai, organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), Anup Wadhawan, commerce secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said, "I think our exports will be a record figure. We will do better than whatever the earlier peak was. Given the export growth we see now, I am confident that the number we will reach in the end will be a record, both (in) dollar and rupee (terms)." However, he did not provide any specific number for the expected growth. According to industry experts, the government is targeting exports to reach $350 billion during the current financial year.   

Growth in exports is healthy at 12 per cent plus in dollar terms and close to 19 per cent in rupee terms, said Wadhawan, adding that the global environment is very challenging. Protectionism and unilateralism have emerged, especially in the developed world where countries are unilaterally raising duties very often in violation of WTO obligations. There is also the challenge of a very fragile recovery from the downturn that started in 2008-09, which accentuated towards 2014-15. Amid all these challenges, the exporter community is growing excellently, said Wadhawan, adding that in the past 2.5 years, the country has seen constant export growth.  

The ministry will consider enhancement of export promotion measures, which the industry has asked for, added Wadhawan.  

"India has always abided by its WTO obligations. By a certain conscious logic, developing countries have higher bound rates as far as tariffs are concerned. Our bound rates under WTO obligations are at a higher level, given our development rate. Those are actually paid for by the developing countries by abiding by rules related to services and IPR, which were in the interest of developed countries," he said. 

"Nothing has been given to developing countries for free. It is not fair to pick up one part of the scheme and say that the bound rates are high. Developing countries, given their capacity constraints and the highly legalistic nature of those negotiations, have necessarily not come out on top with their interest fully protected. Given the position, we have used our rights to impose duties within our bound rates to meet our developmental interest, just as all other countries have used their rights in the past. Within our WTO obligations, we will do what is necessary for India to meet its goals," he added.

He added that identifying what was WTO compliant and what was not was an issue. "It is not a trivial issue. But, the government will engage in that process and assert the country's rights. It will ensure legally whatever due India has to get," he added.  

Wadhawan said that several steps have been taken to protect the labour intensive export industries, including textiles, garments, leather and handicrafts, among others.  

FIEO Regional Chairman A Sakthivel said that the negative growth shown in these labour-intensive sectors as against the competing nations, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia, which have shown double-digit growth, was a worrying factor for the industry.  

FIEO has raised various demands, including an early conclusion of the Comprehensive Trade Agreements with EU, Canada and Australia, which will benefit the textiles, spices, processed foods and pharma sectors, among others. 
The US questioning India's various incentive schemes and tensions between the two major trading countries are other concerns. There are hidden taxes from farming, fuel and petrol, coal and construction and real estate sectors that are affecting the garment sector, which affects the competitiveness of Indian exporters as compared to neighbouring countries. Sakthivel also raised various issues related to the goods and services tax (GST) and said that the high volatility of the rupee was also another concern.   

Source :- Business-standard.com

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