Total exports in 2016-17 were $274.64 billion up from $262.29 billion in the preceding year.
With cumulative exports during April-December 2017-18 growing 12.05% to $223.512 billion, Sahai said: "Prices are moving up, we are on our course to achieve $300 billion." In the mid-term review of the foreign trade policy in December last year, the Government doled out incentives worth Rs 8,450 crore to boost exports and employment in labour intensive sectors hit hard by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) roll out.
Even as the edible oil sector was all praise for the hike in the import duty to safeguard domestic industry, the Indian Olive Association strongly criticised the hike in the import duty on olive oil. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has announced an increase in duty rates on crude (extra virgin) olive oil from 12.5 per cent to 30 per cent and on refined (olive oil and olive pomace oil) from 20 per cent to 35 per cent.
IOA President V N Dalmia reasoned the objection to Jaitley's proposal, citing the health benefits of olives, which is not an Indian crop and the country had to depend on imports for olive oil. The rate increases are exorbitant and extraordinary. These rates are even more unreasonable considering that there is no domestic production of olive oil in India. Hence, domestic farmers are not affected by olive oil imports.
"This is not a crop of India and farmers do not need protection by imposition of import duty. Prices of other edible oils may have declined, but olive oil prices have not experienced any such trend," said Dalmia. He added that successive droughts in the producer countries - mainly Spain and Italy - had seen the landed price of olive oil in India rise in the past few months.
"Landed prices have almost doubled in the last two years and this is expected to continue in the months to come. Prices of seed oils may have declined, but olive oil prices have shown an increasing trend," he added, underlining the need to relax import duty on olive oils, primarily in the backdrop of health needs, to minimise the risk of lifestyle diseases such as cancer, cholesterol and diabetes.
"The government’s effort should be to make the product increasingly accessible to the Indian consumer given its overarching and universally accepted health benefits. Instead, its ill-conceived and misguided actions will result in exactly the opposite," added Dalmia.