Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said India has gracefully accepted the decision made by the US to withdraw duty-free benefits to Indian exporters and will work towards making exports more competitive.
Goyal was briefing reporters on Thursday, after attending a joint meeting of the Board of Trade and the Council of Trade Development and Promotion.
Goyal said the withdrawal of Generalized Systems of Preference was not a matter of life and death for all exporters. “India is now evolving and moving out of the crutches that we thought we needed to export. India is no more an underdeveloped or least developed country that we will look at that kind of support. We believe we can be export competitive at our own strength or at the strength of our own comparative advantage,” he said.
Last week, the US government said it would terminate India’s preferential trade status from Jun 5 as New Delhi had not been giving the US “equitable and reasonable access to its markets”. Scrapping of the Generalized System of Preference is likely to hit exporters of Indian textiles, jewellery, auto parts, agricultural products, and aggravate trade tension between the two countries
On the issue of whether India will impose retaliatory tariffs against the US, Goyal said, “You will get to know when the time comes.”
India had proposed higher tariffs on 29 US products in response to the US raising duties on steel and aluminium imports from India and other countries last year, however, the deadline for the imposition of the move has been repeatedly pushed back, and the current deadline is Jun 16.
A number of decisions were taken during the meeting between the central government and representatives from trade and export bodies, and state government officials, including a plan to examine the top 50 tariff lines constituting 60% of India’s import, in a bid to reduce dependence.
The commerce ministry also took a decision to fast-track investigations of imports under the anti-dumping mechanism, particularly products belonging to the medium, small, and micro enterprises sector.
Directed at alleviating the woes of exporters, Goyal said that the commerce ministry is working on a scheme to rebate state, central taxes and levies to exporters, which will be rolled out in three months in a phased manner across sectors. The government also plans to ensure credit availability for exporters at cheaper rates, Goyal told reporters.
Goyal said that the government intends to implement many of the decisions taken during the meeting on Thursday within the next 45 days. He also announced that the next meeting with traders, exporters, and state government representatives will be held in 45 days.
Ministers of State for Commerce and Industry Hardeep Singh Puri, Som Parkash, NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade Secretary Ramesh Abhishek, and Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan also took part in the deliberations.
Reported by Adrija Chatterjee, Cogencis