India looks to boost exports to Africa and Latin America

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) India is looking to boost its trade with Asia and Africa to offset the decline of exports to western countries, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said Thursday.
Unveiling India's new five-year Foreign Trade Policy, Sharma said, “"My immediate priority is to arrest and reverse the declining trend in exports”.
"We've taken a conscious view to expand and diversify our export markets, especially in the emerging markets' such as Africa and Latin America," he told the representatives of various export promotion councils and industry chambers at the Pragati Maidan trade and convention centre here.
The minister also set an export target of $200 billion for 2010-11 with a growth of 15 percent over the next two years, with an overall medium-term objective of 25 percent annual growth thereafter.
"By 2014, we expect to double India's exports of goods and services. The long-term policy objective for the government is to also double India's share in global trade by 2010," he said.
"The three pillars which would support us to achieve the targets are improvement in export-related infrastructure, lowering of transaction costs and providing full refund of all indirect taxes and levies."
India's merchandise exports had fallen short of the target set for 2008-09 and were valued at $168.7 billion, up merely 3.4 percent over $163.13 billion in the year before. Exports were also down 31.3 percent in the first quarter of this fiscal.
Nevertheless, Sharma said, India's share of global goods and services exports now stood at 1.53 percent, as opposed to 0.92 percent in 2003, while its share of global merchandise export was at 1.28 percent.
The minister said there were other positive developments as well in India's foreign trade scenario, especially at the special economic zones, which exported goods worth Rs.99,689 crore (nearly $20 billion) in 2008-09, to log a 50 percent growth over Rs.66,000 crore achieved in the previous year.
"This is a remarkable achievement in the current context. In the past five years, exports from special economic zones have grown 620 percent and have attracted foreign direct investment of $2.43 billion."
Going to some specific measures in the new policy, Sharma said India will hold at least six "Made in India" shows across the globe, even as diamond bourses will be set up to make the country an international hub for the trade.
"It is a welcome policy," said A. Sakthivel, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations. "The minister has given us free dollar credit, he has extended the interest subvention scheme, enhanced the focus product and focus market scheme. All this will help exporters."

Industry lobbies such as the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) also welcomed the overall thrust of the policy and said it rightly focuses on demand creation for Indian products in new markets. 

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