The 70-member board of trade (BoT) is set meet again after almost three years to brainstorm ways to turnaround dipping exports, which have fallen for 15 straight months.
The meeting to be chaired by commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman is likely to discuss issues such as sector-specific incentives, better road and rail connectivity, and lending and liquidity.
The board which is the top advisory body on trade, was reconstituted late last month and includes 19 members from industry and academia (non-official); 31 heads of trade and industry associations (ex-officio); and 20 top officials including 13 secretaries of the government of India, deputy governor of RBI, chairmen of railway board and National Highways Authority of India.
Apart from this, the director general of foreign trade is the member secretary of the board, a position held by Anup Wadhawan at present.
The non-official members include Apollo Tyres CMD Onkar Kanwar, Hero MotoCorp MD Pawan Munjal, ICICI Bank CMD Chanda Kochhar, Biocon MD Kiran Majumdar-Shaw, ITC Chairman YC Deveshwar and Ashok Leyland MD R Seshasayee among others.
Exports dipped 5.66% in February 2016 to $20.73 billion due to contraction in shipments of petroleum and engineering goods amid tepid global demand. On yearly basis, exports have declined from $314 billion in 2013-14 to $310 billion in 2014-15. Exports in 2015-16 are expected to shrink further to around $260 billion.
“The objective of BoT is to have continuous discussion and consultation with trade and industry. The BoT would advise the government on policy measures related to free trade policy in order to achieve the objective of boosting India’s trade,” a commerce ministry statement said.
The board reviews export performance of sectors, identifies constraints and suggest industry specific measures to optimise export earnings. It also advises the government on policy measures for preparation and implementation of both short and long term plans for increasing exports in the light of emerging national and international economic scenarios.
“We will also suggest that Indian government should extend line of credit to Latin American and African countries as they are facing foreign exchange crisis due to dip in oil and commodity prices. In this way we can enhance our exports to those nations,” said Ajay Sahai, director general of Federation of Indian Exports Organisation.
Besides, the issue of better rail and road connectivity from export clusters to ports and airports at the state-level to boost exports by reducing logistics time, is also on the top of the agenda.