Commerce Minister meets EPCs to address export concerns

Commerce Minister meets EPCs to address export concerns 
Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce & Industry held a meeting today with the Chairpersons of major Export Promotion Councils to review the current trend of exports from India and to take stock of issues faced by the exporters. 

2. 11 Export Promotion Councils and the Export Development Authorities, APEDA and MPEDA, participated in the meeting. The organisations which attended the meeting reaffirmed that in terms of volume, most of the commodities have shown resilience and have maintained the levels achieved in the previous fiscal 2014-15. The general feedback of EPCs was that the trade prospects would start looking up from the second quarter of 2016-17 keeping in view the various initiatives taken by the Government recently and global factors. The recent downturn in exports from India was attributable to factors like reduction in commodities prices, lack of demand in key markets and currency devaluation/fluctuation, some of which was also linked to fall in petroleum prices.

3. The export organisations were appreciative of the introduction of Interest Equalisation Scheme (IES) brought by the Government w.e.f. 1st April, 2015 and also other initiatives taken by the Department of Commerce for supporting exports. The review and addition of products and geographies MEIS was expected to support exports. The recent initiatives for online transaction of export facilitation by DGFT was also generally appreciated, however, concerns were expressed about the new system translating into ground level operation. The key areas in which the support of the government was sought were:

(i) Inclusion of merchant exporters under IES;

(ii) More stable policy environment;

(iii) Review of existing FTAs, especially ASEAN, so that India gets a level playing field on certain key commodities;

(iv) Greater incentives to the Services Sector;

(v) Speedy environmental clearances, in the case of sectors having regulatory concerns, especially at the State Government level;

(vi) More transaction related facilitation under the new approach of the Government for ease of business; and

(vii) Addressing SPS/NTBs of various markets faced by Indian exports.

4. Each of the participating organizations conveyed their specific issues relating to the sector and support required from the Government for improving manufacturing related to exports. Issues relating to services sector were also highlighted by the concerned Councils.

5. DGFT highlighted that the initiatives taken by the Department for increase in support for exports and this was reflected in increased disbursements under duty drawback – against Rs.27053.00 crores disbursed during 1.1. 2014 to 26.1.2015, an amount of Rs.28440.00 crores was disbursed during the corresponding period of 2015–16. Similarly the benefits provided under major DGFT Schemes like Export Incentives, Advance Authorisation, and DFIA have in the first 10 months of the current fiscal shown proportionately higher figures as against 2014-15 (Chapter – 3 Incentives, Advance Aurhorisation/DFIA, EPCG Authorisations have shown values of Rs.9387.00 crore; Rs.140860.00 crore and Rs.10693 crores respectively), which substantiated the progressive steps taken by the Department to support exports.

6. The Hon’ble Minister appreciated the various concerns expressed by the EPCs and urged them to be more pro-active on behalf of exporters and approach the Ministry on day-to-day basis highlighting the issues instead of waiting for the Ministry to call for a formal meeting to understand their problems. The progressive steps taken by DGFT were highlighted by the MoS and she agreed that concerns relating to some of the online procedures introduced by DGFT would be considered and sought constant feedback to improve the same.

7. Minister expressed concern about various Non-Tariff Barriers introduced by other markets including the recent policy notifications by USA for the Pharma sector. She also appreciated the need for Indian markets to adapt to global trends and stressed that India cannot be driven any more by a protectionist policy for the domestic players.

8. It was clarified that the ASEAN FTA is under review and she sought feedback for the same from all the industry members, as also for other trade agreements like RCEP, which is on the anvil and for which Department of Commerce is frequently meeting the industry members from all sectors. She also assured that Ministry of Commerce is willing to take up with Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Finance etc. on issue concerning exports. The EPCs were advised to interact with their members constantly and cooperate with the Department to take the policy interventions introduced from time to time to the grass root level, to achieve the policy objectives.

9. Taking note of the concerns expressed by the Export Promotion Bodies, the officers in the Department of Commerce were directed by the Minister to take up with concerned administrative Ministries on sectoral issues bilaterally or multi-laterally as may be needed. She impressed upon the officers the need for resolving matters on “yesterday basis” rather than on a “tomorrow basis”. 

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