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New foreign trade policy to focus on services exports, branding of products

The five-year foreign trade policy (2009-14) ended on March 31. The policy for the period 2014-19 is expected to be announced by the new government in June.

(Photo for representational purpose only. Source: Reuters) (Photo for representational purpose only. Source: Reuters)

Faced with subdued export performance, the new foreign trade policy (FTP) is expected to focus on wide range of issues including services sector shipments, standards and branding of products.

The five-year foreign trade policy (2009-14) ended on March 31. The policy for the period 2014-19 is expected to be announced by the new government in June.

India's exports in the last three years have been hovering around $300 billion and now there is a need to boost it further and enhance its contribution in the world trade, an official said.

"The new FTP would focus on enhancing services exports, standards and branding of products to promote exports of specific products in specific geographies. The policy may review the current schemes which are not in compliance with the WTO norms," the official told PTI.

According to international rules, India cannot provide export subsidies to a sector if outbound shipments from that particular segment crosses 3.5 per cent share in the global market.

Citing example of textiles, an industry source said the sector is reported to have crossed the 3.5 per cent share in the global market on certain point of time and now India would not be able to provide export subsidies to the sector.

The exercise to formulate the policy is already on and the Director General of Foreign Trade is consulting all stakeholders for this.

All exports- and imports-related activities are governed by the FTP. It mainly aims at enhancing the country's exports and use trade expansion as an effective instrument of economic growth and employment generation.

Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) Director General & CEO Ajay Sahai said that the Commerce Ministry has been suggested to focus more on export of services and hi-tech products in the new policy.

"The FTP should look beyond the conventional method of exports. It should focus on areas like high-tech items, branding of products in the global market and new strategy for marketing," Sahai added.

Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher recently said till now the role of FTP was essentially to identify some instruments to promote exports but now we are trying to contextualised the policy instruments and that is very important.

India's exports in 2013-14 fall short of the $325 billion target and managed to reach $312.35 billion. The country's exports stood at $300.4 billion in 2012-13 and $307 billion in 2011-12.

The services sector contributes about 55 per cent to the country's gross domestic product. During April-October period, services exports were worth $113.28 billion.

Kher also said that there was a need to create an environment where India start talking about services exports as an element of priority. India's share in global trade is about 2 per cent.