PM’s apex group meets, may wrap up package for exporters (Lead)

November 17th, 2008 - 10:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) With the export growth rate in October said to be the slowest in five years, the government is preparing a package to give exporters a “level playing field” in the international marketplace.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday evening hosted a meeting of the apex group he set up earlier this month to discuss measures to help the export market.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, Reserve Bank of India Governor D. Subbarao and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The group was set up under his chairmanship to coordinate the government’s response to points raised by industry from time to time.

Earlier Monday, the commerce minister told reporters that the government was looking at various measures that could help sustain exports. “We are working on this package because this situation was not there last month,” he said.

The committee set up by the prime minister would look at the issue of improving conditions for exporters at its meeting Monday, Kamal Nath said earlier on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum-India Economic Summit.

He admitted that there was a decline in the export growth rate. “There is a global economic gloom. There is a slowdown in the western economies, so there is bound to be a slowdown in exports,” he said.

Last week, Director General of Foreign Trade R.S. Gujral said export growth rate had declined by 15 percent in dollar terms - the steepest fall in five years.

He also warned that the export target of $200 billion for 2008-09 may not be met. Last year, India exceeded its export target of $160 billion.

Kamal Nath, however, said it was not a slump in exports, but only the pace at which exports were growing has gone down.

“Until now, we are on target, but next five months will show if we will meet our targets. It is dependent on the revival of the western economies,” he added.

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