Pushing exports may've caught PM's attention

Need for boosting exports has hopefully caught the attention of the Prime Minister. He dealt with it in a question-answer published in The Economic Times newspaper and also in his Independence Day address to the nation. 

Some of the quotes from his answer to a question of boosting exports included, ‘exports form an integral part of our growth model’, ‘part of our vision to double farmer income by 2022 is driven by a focus on increasing exports’ and ‘we are not looking to boost exports by incentives only, we also want to improve the competitiveness of our exporters’. He followed each of these quotes by talking about some steps his government has already taken. ‘Make in India is making an impact. We have already set up many mega food parks, and many cold chain projects are being set up. Various measures taken to improve the ease of doing business have resulted in an easier regulatory environment. Lower interest rates, improvement in logistics sector and simplification of GST are some examples. The new automated refund system for GST will help exporters’, he said. There was no follow up question on why export performance has been poor in the last few years, despite such helpful measures taken. 

In his Independence Day speech, the Prime Minister suggested that farmers should be exporters and that each of our districts must become an export hub for its specialty like its own sarees, utensils, sweets, perfumes and so on. The diversity and affordability of our products must be leveraged to access the global markets through ‘zero defect’ manufacturing of our traditional products, he said.  As a part of a long speech dealing with several issues, he also asked our companies and entrepreneurs to go global. 

Overall, the Prime Minister’s response to the questions put to him and the points he chose to make in his address to the nation conveyed his satisfaction with the way his government has performed although there is still more work to be done.  He also tried to underplay the impact of the US-China trade friction and inability of India to attract investments fleeing China. ‘There is no doubt that the ongoing events are creating opportunities for some economies. But our policies are not designed to get some short-term benefit out of transient disruptions being seen around the world. We are focused on improving our competitiveness through long-term reform measures’, he said.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Ministry has reported that the cumulative value of exports of goods for the period April-July 2019-20 was $107.41 billion as against $107.81 billion during the period April-July 2018-19, registering a negative growth of 0.37 per cent in Dollar terms and that the cumulative value of imports for the period April-July 2019- 20 was $ 166.80 billion  as against $173.08 billion during the period April-July 2018-19, registering a negative growth of 3.63 per cent in Dollar terms. The Monetary Policy Committee of the Reserve Bank of India also said that the global economic activity has slowed down since its meeting in June in an environment rendered hostile by elevated trade tensions and geo-political uncertainty.  So, having sounded positive about the prospects of the economy, the Prime Minister has to now take some tangible steps to revive the economy and boost exports in 
the short run. 

Email: tncrajagopalan@gmail.com

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