Punjab industry eyes trade openings during US President's visit

  • Arjun Sharma, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Jan 27, 2015 17:41 IST

With India all set to discuss trade opportunities with the United States during the visit of President Barack Obama to India, industry in Punjab whose export share to US has increased during the past some years say that the technology upgrading was the key to further increase the bilateral trade.

Hand tools, sports goods and handicrafts manufactured in different parts of the state are among some items that have seen rise in growth of exports to US within some years. Although the exports from Punjab industry to US had hit a road block during 2008-09 due to recession in that country, experts feel that the exports could witness exponential growth in some years if right steps are taken by both the governments.

High custom duty on exports from India to US has kept a major part of Punjab’s industry away. Sports goods and hand tools have witnessed a rise in exports. However, with the visit of Barack Obama, the industry is hopeful that dampeners in export to US could be removed.

Punjab industry was being considered a serious player in export market that is evident from the fact that the minister of state for foreign affairs General VK Singh (retd) had recently nominated city-based industrialist Badish Jindal as vice-chairman of India-US Trade Organization that would explore the possibilities of increasing bilateral trade.

Jindal told HT that central government would work on a single-window system through which trade possibilities would increase.

“If we talk about Punjab, there is a huge market for hand tools, auto parts, sports goods, rice and spices in US. This market is so far not being focused upon as it should have been,” Jindal said.

He said at present India stands on number 10 in exporting goods to US, while China is at number 1.

Experts believe that decision making and lack of technology was the two major areas that thwarted export possibilities of most of the exporters.

But, the positive trend in sports goods and hand tool industry has provided hopes to the industry who believe that increase in bilateral trade would be directly beneficial for these industries.

Sports Goods Manufacturer and Exporters Association chairman Raghunath Rana said, “Currently out of the total exports of sports industry based in Jalandhar, at least 10% goods are exported to the US. Soccer balls, boxing equipment and exercise products are the major exports from Jalandhar industry.”

He said Obama’s visit was an opportunity to promote ‘Make in India’ and increase exports to US. He, however, said the problem arising in exports to US was lack of technology upgrading. “We are even ready for joint ventures, if US companies provide us with technology,” Rana said.

The export of hand tools to US in 2011-12 was Rs 3.71 billion that increased to rs 3.82 billion in 2012-13. On the other hand, export of sports goods to US in 2011-12 was Rs 93.33 crore that increased to Rs 124.87 crore in 2012-13.

Even the handicraft goods of Punjab have a huge demand there, but due to lack of quality finishing and packing these were being beaten by Chinese goods.

Punjab Small Scale Industries and Export Corporation (PSSIEC) former chairman Rajinder Mohan Singh Chinna, who had worked for the growth of exports of handicrafts to US said the finishing of handicraft manufactured in Punjab was not able to compete Chinese goods as a result the bilateral trade was not growing.

“We need to focus on the quality of handicraft so that we could grab the US market,” Chinna said.

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