Will India achieve export target? Ministers differ

March 19th, 2008 - 11:42 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) Will India achieve the export target of $160 billion for the current fiscal despite the rupee appreciation? While Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath is optimistic, his deputy Jairam Ramesh is not. “We are very close to the export target despite all the problems posed by the appreciation of the rupee. The credit goes to our exporters and we may be able to achieve the target (of $160 billion),” Kamal Nath said on the sidelines of a conclave here organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

However, Minister of State for Commerce Ramesh Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, that the export target would be missed.

“Exports during 2007-08 are likely to reach a level of $152-$155 billion against the target of $160 billion set for the year,” he said in a written reply to question whether India’s merchandise exports were falling short of target.

To another query over the impact on jobs on account of an appreciation in the value of the rupee, the minister said in some sectors like textiles, leather, marine products and handicraft, there was a net decline in exports and jobs.

“While the exact details are not available, it is estimated that unless remedial measures are taken, the total job losses could be as high as two million,” he said in reply to a question posed by industrialist Rahul Bajaj.

Ramesh also said there was a decline in the export of traditional items and that some sectors like primary and finished steel, plastic, non-ferrous metals, marine products, sports goods and handicraft were particularly hit.

“It is the endeavour of the government to promote exports in line with India’s comparative advantage and the emerging situation in the domestic as well as international markets.”

Kamal Nath, meanwhile, said: “We are looking at giving sops to the exporters in the FTP (Foreign Trade Policy).”

He added that his ministry might look into providing more financial relief, such as neutralization of duties, to the exporters through the FTP, which would be released early next month.

He also said the government was looking at identifying areas such as toys and sports goods as the major thrust areas in the FTP that would generate employment.

The appreciation of the rupee by about 11 percent in the last 10-11 months hit the exporters, especially in the textile, handicrafts, marine and leather sectors, which also faced huge job losses.

So far, the government has announced financial assistance amounting to Rs.80 billion in three tranches during 2007-08 for the exporters.

The finance ministry also announced enhancement of duty entitlement passbook scheme rates by three percent for nine identified sectors and two percent for others.

The government has set an export target of Rs.200 billion for the next financial year, officials said.

During April-January, exports rose to $124.19 billion, 21.6 percent up from a year earlier, according to current trade data.

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