The government plans to “expeditiously” resolve issues preventing India from achieving a competitive advantage in domestic and global trade, including the need for easier availability of credit at “cheaper rates” to exporters, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.
During day-long deliberations with trade bodies and states , the Minister also decided to implement various decisions in the coming months, including a new tax rebate scheme and measures to speed up customs clearances by installing X-Ray scanners at all major ports in the country.
A “robust” track and trace mechanism for the pharmaceuticals sector — proposed during the previous tenure of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government — will also be implemented “in three months”, according to Goyal, who also pushed for reduced dependence on subsidies.
“A lot of decisions were taken on the spot which will be (implemented) over the next 30-45 days. A lot of policy ideas, which came on the table, will now be examined and explored for immediate implementation in the next few days,” he said, after the first joint meeting of the Board of Trade and the Council of Trade Development and Promotion (CTDP) here.
“A new scheme to rebate state and central taxes and levies will be rolled out in three months and will be implemented in a phased manner for all sectors,” he added.
State governments will also be ranked and evaluated on the support they provide to the industry for manufacturing, exports and logistics support.
The decisions come at a time when each ministry has been directed to present a 100-day action plan as well as a comprehensive five-year plan.
In commerce and trade, India has seen a widened trade deficit. It has been looking to become more competitive and self-reliant, boost its exports and reduce its import dependence on nations like China.
“We have looked at ways to promote capital investments in manufacturing. Some ideas on clusters and cluster development through the manufacturing zones and industrial corridors have been discussed in detail,” said Goyal. “We have also examined what we can do for promoting agricultural export … not just primary export of materials, but value-added materials,” he said, adding that there was “significant bandwidth” spent on what the government could do to make logistics an integral part of trade promotion.
Other decisions taken on Thursday include expediting investigations on imports under the anti-dumping mechanism, particularly products of MSMEs, and examining “in detail” the top 50 tariff lines, which comprise 60 per cent of India’s import, to reduce import dependence.
Another plan is to leverage the railways real estate by exploring the possibility of setting up warehouses in less utilised stations.
Goyal also indicated that India may not pursue a resolution to the United States’ withdrawal of trade benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences. The move has had an impact of 1-3 per cent on some sectors, but India is “evolving” and “moving out of the crutches” it thought it needed to promote exports, he said.