Kamal Nath to raise export concerns with prime minister

March 4th, 2008 - 10:00 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) In the wake of Indian exporters losing conventional markets to their competitors such as Brazil and China due to a strong rupee, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss their concerns. “With the rupee appreciation, Indian exporters are feeling concerned about lack of competitiveness in global market. We are concerned about the sector, especially about the labour-intensive sectors,” Kamal Nath told reporters on the sidelines of a conference here Tuesday.

The minister has expressed concern over the fact that the national budget for 2008-09 did not announce any relief for exporters who had been severely affected by the rupee that appreciated by 9.8 percent against the dollar in the past 11 months.

“The government is sensitive to the needs of the export sector and will continue to respond sympathetically as the situation demands. Merchandise exports have come under some pressure due to the appreciation of the rupee and may fall just short of the target of $160 billion, although the growth rate was strong at 21.8 percent during April-Dec 2007-08,” Chidambaram said in his budget speech Feb 29.

He, however, did not mention any special package for the exporters.

Ganesh K. Gupta, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisation, said: “We want total exemption from service tax. In a situation like this, when the rupee is increasing (strengthening against dollar) everyday, it is becoming impossible for us to sustain and survive.”

“We now urge Commerce Minister Kamal Nath to announce some relief measures for us in the upcoming foreign trade policy (for 2008-09).”

According to the trade data released Monday, Indian exports surged to 20.47 percent at $131.41 billion in January compared to $109.08 billion for the corresponding month for last year.

Cumulatively, India’s exports were up 21.62 percent in the first 10 months of this fiscal at $124.19 billion, against $102.11 billion in the like period of last fiscal.

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