Commerce minister advises EPCs to be pro-active in promoting exports

02 Feb 2016


Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman today asked export promotion councils to take a pro-active stance for promoting exports and specifically advised them to inform the ministry on ''what is not happening and what should ideally happen.''

At an interactive session held today, she also requested them to talk with their respective members and seek specific intervention from the ministry based on their inputs.

Sitharaman also assured the export promotion councils that the issues concerning exports would be sorted out through discussions with the concerned stakeholders.

The EPS that presented their cases included Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Engineering Exports Promotion Council (EEPC), Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals & Cosmetics Export Promotion Council (CHEMEXCIL), Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (PHARMEXCIL), Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) and Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

Some of the observations raised by EPC's pertained to issues arising out of online applications of the DGFT website, request for increased duty drawbacks, inclusion of more scrips in the MEIS scheme, request for abolishing service tax on exports, delays in getting environmental clearances and more measures aimed at ensuring 'ease of doing business'.

In their submission, MPEDA suggested that the higher value added products should attract higher duty drawback. Engineering Exports Promotion Council chairman T S Bhasin said in his presentation that the lack of clear-cut directions from the government regarding the steel policy has created considerable uncertainty in the market.

Seeking government's attention to realise the gravity of the situation arising out of a sharp fall in engineering exports, the EEPC India today said the promotional schemes for the external trade must be re-aligned immediately in the wake of worsening conditions in the global market. EEPC also raised concerns regarding higher taxes and delay in getting refunds.

Bhasin said at present India is putting all its eggs in one basket: this is the RCEP region. ''We must not ignore CIS, Africa and Latin America,'' he said.

The representatives of Chemexcil highlighted the issues arising out of FTA with ASEAN under which they said that the duty structure was not bilateral in nature. Chemexcil also raised issues relating to inordinate delays in getting environmental clearances.

They requested the government to take up the matter with the environment ministry to ensure that the Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards should act as facilitators to promote exports.

Pharmexcil raised operational issues arising out of steep registration in fee hike and challenges thrown by steep devaluation of several competing countries such Venezuela, Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique and CIS countries. Pharmexcil also raised the issue of long gestation periods of as high as three years with the environmental clearances.

AEPC requested for an early finalisation of the Indo-EU FTA which, they said, could create 10 million jobs. AEPC also raised the issue relating to an average 12-14 per cent extra duty on the sector which was making them uncompetitive before the neighbouring countries such Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan etc.

They also spoke about higher energy and financial cost that was making this sector uncompetitive. Highlighting that the apparel sector employed more than 110 million people out of which 60 per cent are women, AEPC requested for incentives to set up garment producing centres in the semi-urban areas.

Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESCEPC) requested for inclusion of IT services in the basked of exports. They suggested that a greater focus of `ease of doing business' could help in relocating hardware business from countries like Korea, Taiwan, China to India.

EPCH requested for benefits of interest subvention for emergent exports also. They pointed out that during a short period from 1 April 2015 to 14 July 2015 the sector has been left out of the interest subvention scheme.

APEDA requested for inclusion of packaged basmati rice in the MEIS list. They also requested for 5 per cent interest subvention on guar gum exports to enable the sector to compete in China also.

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