The country's exports are likely to register a "reasonable level" of growth in the current financial year despite the global uncertainties on the trade front, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said.
Clearly, there are signs of a global slowdown in international trade and India is keeping a "watchful" eye on the developments by talking to all the export promotion councils and large exporters, and engaging with the Indian missions abroad, he said.
In the current global situation, "our exports will stand on the basis of price competitiveness and quality…We will calibrate the expectations of exports based on the ground reality," the minister told PTI.
When asked if figures like $450 billion or $500 billion worth of goods exports in 2022-23 look ambitious in this situation, he said the ministry has not yet come to any final figure or an export target for the current year, and it is in consultations with all the stakeholders on that.
"The whole world is facing severe challenges, Covid is not yet over…There is a geopolitical situation, which is not conducive, inflation worldwide is (a matter) of concern, petroleum products are still at high prices, food security concerns also are before us, and fertiliser shortages in many parts of the world are reported.
"In these challenging times, the fact that India prepared itself structurally and strengthened our basic readiness and capability to expand exports….Therefore a reasonable level of growth from last year can still be expected," Goyal said.
India's merchandise exports in June rose by 16.78 per cent year-on-year to $37.94 billion while the trade deficit ballooned to a new high of $25.63 billion on account of a steep increase in gold and crude oil imports, as per the government's preliminary data.
The export growth in June moderated from 20.55 per cent in May and 48.34 per cent in June 2021. In 2021-22, the country's merchandise and services exports touched $420 billion and $254 billion, respectively.
Commenting on the new foreign trade policy (FTP), Goyal said the ministry is collecting inputs from all quarters to release a "robust" policy.
Due to the uncertainties all over the world and international trade, the ministry has extended the existing policy till September this year.
"In these challenging times, we are looking at further ease of doing business, reducing compliance burden, decriminalising existing laws, developing districts as export hubs, promoting our traditional areas where we are strong like textiles, pharmaceuticals, marine products, other Agri produce, handicrafts and handlooms, and leather goods, and we feel that the demand for these products will be robust in the long run," the minister said.
The role of states, particularly districts, is crucial to promoting India's outbound shipments.
The government is supporting aspirational districts and northeastern states, and also identifying the unique products of each district that can be promoted both in India and worldwide, he noted.
On ways to scale those products for export purposes, he said the government can hand hold those products by providing better testing facilities, brand building, and creating awareness in the world through Indian missions abroad.
"We are also looking at (extending) support of infrastructure, which is relevant to these products," Goyal said.
On the proposal to restructure the commerce ministry, as the government is looking at taking the goods and services exports to $2 trillion by 2030, he said the ministry has been working for the past few months to design it on a more forward-looking pattern where trade promotion for goods and services becomes an integral part of its activities.
"The commerce ministry structure was something which must have been decided many decades ago and it continues in that fashion…For the development of the nation, international trade is very important. In this situation, we believe that the entire functioning of the commerce ministry needs to be made more contemporary," the minister said.
The process has started in a small way but major change can only be done after holding more discussions with other ministries, industry and exporters, he added.
On valuation of the rupee vis-a-vis the US dollar, he said the domestic currency today has not depreciated against the USD as much as most other currencies have.
"So, if you look at a relative depreciation, the rupee has actually strengthened in comparison to many currencies of the world. This is the strength of the Indian economy," the minister said.