Export fall arrested, growth will be slow, steady: Sitharaman

Chennai, Sep 2 (IANS) Declaring that the continuous decline in Indian exports since last year had finally been arrested, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said growth in exports will now be slow and steady.

“Exports will grow. I would not say it will grow fast, but slowly and steadily. I cannot speculate on the level because the global demand is not picking up. We can only hope it will increase,” Sitharaman said while addressing the Regional Editors Conference here.

“We are looking at signing FTAs (free trade agreements) with many countries and with Eurasia,” the minister said, adding that the ministry was looking into diversification of the export product basket, diversification into non-traditional markets, as well as conclusion of ongoing FTA negotiations.

The fall in India’s merchandise exports over a year and a half was at last arrested in May as data showed in June.

Exports declined for the 18th consecutive month in May at $22.17 billion, down 0.79 per cent in dollar terms, against $22.35 billion in the like month of last year.

She said arrest in the exports’ fall was a result of certain steps taken in September last year like the interest subvention scheme and the performance-based incentive schemes for merchandise and services.

Exports in July fell 6.84 per cent to $21.69 billion, compared to $23.28 billion in the corresponding month of 2015.

Sitharaman said exports in the last fiscal at a little over $262 billion showed a 15.5 per cent decline.

However, 12 sectors like tea, tobacco, spices, fruits and vegetables, cereals, miscellaneous processed items, ceramics and glassware, pharmaceuticals, jute manufactures and certain handicrafts had recorded positive growth in value terms.

The minister also said initiatives like the Make in India programme had started yielding results with manufacturing growth in 2015-16 being at 9.3 per cent, as against 5.5 per cent in 2014-15, 5.6 per cent in 2013-14 and 6 per cent in 2012-13.

–IANS

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