Anand Sharma chairs Board of Trade meeting
New Delhi, Mar 22 : Before the announcement of the Foreign Trade Policy in the first week of April, Union Minister of Commerce, Industry & Textiles Anand Sharma chaired the Board of Trade meeting here on Friday.
"Recognising the stress that our trade is going through, and the need to enhance exports, we will be supportive," said Sharma by further adding that after going through the final numbers on 31st of March, "in 72 hours after that, we propose to come out with the Foreign Trade Policy".
Giving the opening remarks, Sharma said that in today's scenario, "it is much more difficult to make some kind of interventions or to work out the stimulus packages".
He also said that "given that growth has not taken place, or there has been a downturn, the resource availability has also constrained".
He added that many a steps have been taken in the last few years and they remain relevant even today.
"We have reached out to new shores in Africa, Latin America and the Far East and have progressively expanded our footprints in these parts of the world. The results of these efforts are clearly visible," said Sharma.
Sharma expressed a "very disturbing and challenging fact that we have not even reached where we were a year before, that is USD 360 billion".
"And our exports as such, when we look at the trade account deficit, which was referred to, that would become unmanageable because it directly impacts the current account deficit, which in turn, both of them put together put pressure on the valuation of our currency," he said.
He also expressed hope that on the issue of dollar credit, "we will be able to make some progress in the disbursement because what has been accepted in principle has to be honoured".
He urged the senior secretaries and other officials present in the Meeting "so that we can sit together and ensure that there is no interruption and confidence of exporters and industry remains intact".
On interest subvention issue, Sharma said that it was being provided to all the SMEs and clearly a substantial part of engineering has got the benefit".
He said that "we are seriously considering how to strengthen it more".
On the issue of "the two choke points which have remained difficult to negotiate" i.e. container availability and container movement, Sharma said that "we would like the industry to guide us so that we can put in place at least one major institute which can also add to the container capacity and on we can ensure faster movements".
Speaking during the Board of Trade Meeting, Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry D Purandeswari, said: "It is time to take some serious long-term steps to sustain the growth in our exports."
"And to achieve that we not only need to strengthen up our presence in the traditional markets, like the US and Europe, but we should also make our presence felt in non-traditional markets as well."
Commerce Secretary S R Rao said: "We need to address the issues of the infrastructure sector that "affects our exports and import performance".
He said that the comments and suggestions of the industrialists and representatives of various export promotion councils are "Bible for us in the Ministry of Commerce" for shaping the Foreign Trade Policy.
Sharma also discussed the major challenges to be looked into as the preparation for the Foreign Trade Policy goes underway.
"The first challenge is to reach out to newer markets, while consolidating hold in existing markets. Second is the challenge of giving a greater thrust to high value added manufacturing and technology intensive manufacturing which will have appeal in the global market places," said Sharma.