Anand Sharma pushes for sops to exporters in budget


New Delhi : Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Wednesday expressed concern over the continuing fall in India’s exports and said he would push for sector-specific sops to boost the country’s external trade in the upcoming national budget.

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Speaking to reporters after meeting with representatives of leading export promotion organisations, Sharma said the negative trend in exports may to continue for some more time, but that the government will work to minimise the impact of global slowdown.

“I am concerned about the fall in Indian exports,” the minister said, adding: “I see the negative trend to continue till August or September.”

Sharma said he would soon also take up the issue of incentives for the exports sector with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and hoped for some favourable measures when the national budget is unveiled next month.

He specifically pushed for incentives to handloom, textiles, leather and plantations industries, apart from labour-intensive units.

The current fiscal year started on a sour note for India’s merchandise exports sector with the value of such shipments down 33.2 percent at $10.74 billion in April against $16.08 billion in the same month of the previous fiscal.

Sharma said there was also a case for banks to cut interest rates while assuring the exporting community of steps to help them reduce transaction costs and become more competitive.

During the meeting, A. Saktivel, president of Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), a trade promotion body set up by the commerce ministry, said that even though overseas inquiries continued to come to exporters, pricing remained a major issue.

“The huge stimulus provided by our competitors like China, Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh has distorted prices,” Saktivel said, adding: “Therefore, we request the government to provide us fiscal and non-fiscal support to increase our competitiveness.”