Bikky Khosla | 18 Aug, 2020
COVID-19 has hit our economy hard,
and a latest report reflects the brunt of the pandemic as well as the lockdowns
clamped to contain its spread. According to the report, GDP contraction has already
crossed the (-) 6.8 percent mark for 2020-21, against a previous growth estimate
of 2.6 percent made when India had first imposed lockdown. But the COVID situation
has worsened now, with the country having 12 percent of total global cases. In
this situation, the growth engines of the economy need to be fueled up.
It is particularly important when it
comes to our exports. Latest figures show that
merchandise shipments from the country contracted by (-) 10.12 percent in July,
and although this contraction rate is slower than the (-) 12.41 percent rate
registered in June, the data must be seen in the context of several government steps
taken to address the problems of our exporters. A thorough look shows that 14
out of 30 major product groups were in negative territory. It is a relief,
however, that there was improvement in labour-intensive sectors of export.
It is also encouraging that demand
from major economies has helped in bringing the exports sector to almost 90
percent of the level in July 2019, with exports in July, 2020 falling to $23.64
billion from $26.33 billion reported for the corresponding period of the
previous year. But the overall export situation is not at all satisfactory, and
to tackle it, according to a leading exporters' association, now is the time
for focusing on existing FTAs and entering into more multi-lateral agreements.
It has also called for a special exports package for reviving the sector.
Similar demands have been raised by
another industry body as well, and among other measures, it urges the
government to bring out the Foreign Trade Policy for the sake of a stable export
policy regime. It also calls for expansion of export credit, faster digital
examination of goods, expansion of the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme
(TIES), adequate funding for meeting quality standards and providing
certification facilities, new FTAs with large market nations, marketing
promotion in top exports markets, etc. These recommendations sound timely.
I invite your opinions.