Government to help boost exports: Minister

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New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said the Centre is committed to provide all support to exporters to help boost the country’s exports.

“We are going to hand hold the sectors that need help. We will work on these areas in the next few days,” Sitharaman said while chairing the first meeting of the reconstituted 70-member Board of Trade.

“We will meet with different line ministries. We will call up a SEZ- (special economic zone) specific meeting with departments, including economic affairs and CBEC (Central Board of Excise and Customs) and the industry experts,” she said.

The ministry would also work on improving the potential of these zones as they were sitting on a huge land bank, Sitharaman said.

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She said her ministry would take up with the finance ministry the issue of according priority sector status to export credit as it would help promote exports.

Sitharaman said the commerce ministry would discuss with the Reserve Bank of India and the finance ministry the issues faced by the EXIM Bank regarding more financial flexibility.

Industry leaders at the meeting included ICICI Bank managing director Chanda Kochhar, Biocon MD Kiran Majumdar-Shaw, Dr Reddy’s managing director Satish Reddy and TVS Motor Company chairman Venu Srinivasan.

The industry captains raised the issue of minimum alternate tax (MAT) and dividend distribution tax on SEZs, problems in getting credit for small industry and extending lines of credit to boost exports.

India’s exports fell for the 15th straight month, dropping 5.66 percent in February to 20.73 billion dollars due to fall in shipments of petroleum and engineering goods amid the ongoing global slowdown.

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“We will hold interactions with Indian high commissions and embassies, along with their commercial and economic wings, to make them more vibrant and understand requirements of exporters,” the minister told reporters after the meeting.

At a meeting here on Tuesday, Sitharaman called upon the Export Promotion Councils (EPCs) to take a pro-active stance to promote exports. As many as 14 EPCs participated in the meeting.

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