Commerce Ministry reviews ways to enhance outbound shipments

By Rajesh Mishra

New Delhi, Feb.3 (ANI): Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has urged representatives of various Export Promotion Councils (EPCs) and other representatives to find ways to enhance outbound shipments.

With export performance being in the negative zone since December 2014, Sitharaman was told by the EPCs to increase duty drawbacks, include more scripts in the MEIS scheme and abolish service tax on exports to turn things around.

She was also informed of delays in getting environmental clearances and approvals for DGFT online applications.

The issue of offering affordable credit lines to exporters was also discussed at the meeting that took place earlier this week.

Issues related to inadequate infrastructure, timely refund of tax claims and more budgetary support for exporters was also discussed by representatives of 12 EPCs.

Among the institutions that were represented at the meeting were the Marine Products Export Development Authority, Engineering Exports Promotion Council, Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals and Cosmetics Export Promotion Council, Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council, Apparel Export Promotion Council Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts and Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.

Exporters raised concerns about the effect that an ASEAN FTA would have on national export performance in several sectors, owing to introduction of zero duty.

The MPEDA suggested that higher value added products should attract higher duty drawback.

Engineering Exports Promotion Council Chairman T S Bhasin said there is considerable uncertainty in the market due to lack of clear-cut directions from the government regarding policiies related to the steel industry.

The EEPC said there was a need for realigning market promotional schemes for external trade immediately.

The AEPC raised the issue of 12 to 14 percent extra duties being levied in the export sector, making it uncompetitive with neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan etc.

For the 13th month in a row, India’s exports have contracted, dipping to about 15 percent in December to USD 22.2 billion. This is due to a steep decline in engineering and petroleum shipments.

In the April-December period, collective exports declined by 18.06 per cent to USD 196.6 billion. Outbound shipments in as many as 15 key sectors, including petroleum, engineering and leather, dipped last month. (ANI)

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