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Export target raised

Special Correspondent

India's competitiveness vis-a-vis China to be studied in detail



TAKING STOCK: Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Kamal Nath (left), with Secretary, S. N. Menon, addressing a review meeting on export performance in New Delhi on Thursday. — Photo: Ramesh Sharma

NEW DELHI: The Central Government has urged exporters to aim at a target of $125 billion for the current fiscal, which would mean nearly doubling of the country's merchandise exports over three years.

Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath assured exporters all support to enable them to cross the official target of $120 billion set for 2006-07, which envisages a growth of 16.8 per cent.

Presiding over a review meeting with export promotion councils and commodity boards here on Thursday, he said the sustained over 20 per cent export growth witnessed in the last few years had made him confident that $150 billion of exports would be achieved well before the target date of 2009. This would enable India to increase its share of world trade to at least one per cent, he said.

Clearly concerned over the state of India's competitiveness vis-a-vis China, Mr. Kamal Nath asked the export promotion councils to carry out a study to be completed in two months on their exports in relation to those of China. The study would have to both destination-wise and product-wise to understand India's competitive weaknesses or strengths and how to address these issues, he said.

Noting that some EPCs such as gems and jewellery and chemicals were projecting growth rates lower than 16.8 per cent, he proposed suitable upward revision in their targets. He also assured them that constraints impeding faster growth in specific sectors would be addressed on a priority basis.

An official release says the various councils and commodity boards raised several spector-specific issues ranging from creation of a Rs. 1,000-crore corpus for focus on export promotion in the handicrafts sector to reduction of duty on imported diamonds from five per cent to zero. They also suggested devising a mechanism to save exporters from heavy incidence of fringe benefit tax. The Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) suggested reintroduction of the Target Plus scheme as well as extending benefits under the Focus Market scheme to all countries in Latin America and Africa.

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