Trade, tourism and tech key: PM Modi tells envoys
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants India’s envoys to foreign nations to focus more on international trade which , he believes, is an intrinsic and crucial part of the country’s diplomatic outreach. In a meeting with his ministers and bureaucrats earlier this month, the Prime Minister also spoke about how diplomats posted in foreign countries can try to boost inflow of tourists and technology from foreign shores to the country.
Modi’s focus on the three Ts, trade tourism and technology comes at a time when New Delhi has drastically improved its ease of doing business and opened up more avenues for Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). The government, which is also dealing with an economic slowdown , is keen to attract investment to push growth.
According to an official present in the meeting, which took place on January 17, there was also a discussion about greater synergy and cooperation between the external affairs ministry and ministries which have international exposure -- trade, finance, and defence, for instance. Currently, ministries such as finance and defence have a permanent post allocated to foreign service officers.
According to official data available till FY 18-19, India has exported goods worth USD 52,458.60 to USA, its largest export destination, followed by UAE (USD 30,077.70). Apart from China, Hong Kong and Singapore, Indian exports have not reached USD 10,000 in other countries.
During the meeting, Modi spoke about leveraging diplomatic resources more to boost trade. According to a senior bureaucrat who was present at the meeting, the PM even suggested that the external affairs ministry could perhaps work with state governments, and help them find markets for exporters whose factories or facilities are based in their states.
The Prime Minister also stressed on the need for better cooperation between the Centre and the states to boost trade and economy and pointed out how Gujarat faced apathy of the then UPA government in economic and trade developments.
Modi’s comments assume significance as the NDA government last month announced sops for exporters. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled a World Trade Organisation (WTO)-compliant plan to reimburse taxes paid on exports -- the Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP) – effective from January 2020. It would replace the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS). The government will also contribute Rs 1,700 crore to offer higher insurance cover to banks for lending working capital for exports.
The Prime Minister also spoke about the need to bring foreign tourists and technology to India. According to data from the tourism ministry, arrival of foreign tourists grew by 3.2 % between January and November 2019. Last year, the government took a host of measures including reduction in GST in luxury hotel rooms and e-visa fees to lure tourists.