On slew of relief measures that have been announced for exporters, the idea is to give them much needed relief as we are coming out of the COVID period. Talk to us about what will be the kind of relief that we will see for exporters in the next few days.
Export has been a thrust area of this government and this year we have set a very aggressive goalpost for the country and I am delighted to share with you that the entire business community, exporter community is aligned with our expectation, and with the honourable Prime Minister’s clarion call to take exports to the next level. All our missions over the world have also joined in this effort by engaging with stakeholders, with importers in others countries, to get more demand from India.
It is an entire collective collaborative effort and we have shown it through a series of measures announced over the last 12-13 months. After Atmanirbhar Bharat package was first announced, the country wishes to encourage exports. The announcements will help get an insurance cover which means getting additional credit facilities will become easier for exports worth Rs three lakh crores. Project finance and Rs 33,000 crores are steps that are basically intended to strengthen our exporters ability to do international trade and I am very clear that the mood I see in the market, the enthusiasm when I engage with exporters, they will not let this nation down.
We are speaking with you at a time when the Prime Minister has set a very aggressive target. The second half of the year is usually a year where we see a lot of exports picking up. Given the fact that we are seeing recovery happening across the Indian economy, how likely is it that we are not even only going to meet but perhaps exceed the 400 billion target that has been set out for this year.
A target is always set very ambitiously and this year’s target was a huge jump from 290 to 400 billion and most naysayers had believed that it is just not possible. But as Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi always guides us, one must take an aggressive goalpost and work towards it with full vigour. I am delighted that the exporting community has taken the Prime Minister’s clarion call to heart. We are well on our way to achieving the target.
We have issues with shipping and containers and we are continuously engaging with the shipping ministry, with ship carriers but we feel confident that we will do well this year. First half figures are at 185 billion until 21st of September. Do encourage all of us but we will play it as we go along and hope to do better than expected.
You did speak about the speed bump that we are seeing with respect to container shortage, and the shipping shortage as well. When you say that you are engaging with stakeholders, how soon can we expect a resolution to this? This is going to be pretty important in terms for us to be able to meet our 400 billion dollar target as well.
I think this is an international phenomenon. It is not limited to India alone. So I do believe that it will take some time to settle down. We cannot regulate international shipping rates. It is market driven and we are in dialogue with them to see that more ships dock in India. But since it is an international phenomenon and affects all exporters across the world and all international trade, I do believe that while it may take some time, it may not affect as badly as was thought earlier.
You are the commerce and industry minister. You look after the trade gap very closely. We are seeing crude prices inching towards the 80 dollars per barrel mark which is going to be a big concern for a country like India. How is the government looking at global crude prices inching forward and the kind of impact it is going to have for the Indian economy?
Well, I cannot comment on global crude prices, that is something better dealt with by the petroleum ministry or by the experts in this field. I can assure you that a) our services exports are doing exceedingly well which will help us to bridge the trade gap significantly, and b) while on merchandise exports we may be facing a little shortfall but the fact is that it also gives a great boost to the Indian economy because a lot of what is coming in is raw materials and inputs for our finished products.
So my sense is that with services taking a big jump, even if we have a little higher exports this year overall, we will be able to manage the trade deficit well and with 625 billion dollars plus forex reserves, India is in a sweet spot and internationally being recognised as a very strong economy.