India's exports of merchandise to touch $200 bln by 2009: Survey

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New Delhi, Mar 30 (UNI) Country's exports of merchandise goods will touch 200 billion dollars in 2009, clocking a growth of over 20 per cent during 2004-09, a CII survey on the Foreign Trade Policy points out.

The respondents of the survey said India will become a major player in the global market if the government ensures stability with no mid-term changes to the policy which this will enable long-term planning for exports.

If different export promotion schemes were to be brought down to a few schemes this year, then incentives like Duty Entitlement Pass Book (DEPB), Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG), Duty Free Import Authorisation (DFIA) should continue., the respondents said.

The survey emphasised that the government should continue simplifying export and import procedures for small and medium enterprises, which contributes a large portion of total exports from the country.

The powers of the Regional and Zonal offices of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) should be enhanced to ensure quick local approvals to exporters, as in the current procedure the cases are sent to the Head Office of DGFT in New Delhi for approval, the respondents said.

They also stressed on the need for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to be implemented across all ports, improving infrastructure and the poor road linkages with ports, reducing the high transportation costs and setting a target of a maximum of 10 hours turnaround time at ports for all goods by 2010.

There is a need for a mechanism to control sudden increase in sea freight, the respondents added.

An increase of 61 per cent was seen in sea freight costs in the last one year making exports uncompetitive.

The survey suggests that exporters are looking for new export promotion schemes from this annual supplement that will promote export of goods and services and completely exclude duties and taxes (state and central).

The annual supplement should also introduce an SME Export Technology Fund, that will provide a one-time funding to export oriented units at a nominal interest rate, the chamber said.

The survey also pointes out that technology will be a major component for exports to become more value added in the coming years. Most small and medium sector enterprises find it difficult to identify and buy technology for improving productivity and quality as well add value to products.

''The new scheme should also help exporters in getting the raw material at a cheaper rate so that the Indian products can become competitive at the international markets,'' the survey adds.

According to the study, India should focus on an expanded trade basket and value added exports by moving ahead in the value chain and start focusing on manufacturing high-end products to compete in the global market. ''There is a need for India to start concentrating on the knowledge arbitrage instead of labour arbitrage - new technology, design, branding etc, for enhancing our products and to get wider acceptability in the international market.'' For India, the competitors in global market, according to the survey, are from China, Romania, Brazil, Sweden, France, Vietnam Bangladesh and ASEAN countries.

The products, which face intense competition, include; capital goods, high-tech products, healthcare products, medical equipments, automobile, information technology, the survey revealed.

In the face of such competition, the survey said there is a need to expand basket for Focus Market and Focus Product scheme to the countries that are fast growing markets for Indian produce and the benefits of these schemes can be utilised by all sectors across.

The new markets that the Indian companies are looking at are: Eastern Europe, Russia, Central and South America, Pakistan, West Asia and African countries.

However, an important barrier identified by exporters for penetrating in global markets is the difficulty in obtaining visas for traveling for business development.

Indian exporters require greater openingsfor business-visas, the survey suggested.

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