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Last updated: 07 Dec, 2021  

Covid.9.thmb.jpg Omicron threat: Need a plan on exports

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Bikky Khosla | 07 Dec, 2021

Merchandise exports in November rose to $29.88 billion, higher by 26.49 per cent on a YoY basis, and 15.93 per cent higher than in November 2019. Although in the previous month of October, overseas shipment stood at $35.65 billion, higher by 43.05 per cent YoY basis, the latest figures are no less encouraging and they reflect the continuous resilience of the exports sector, but experts fear that exports may face yet another challenge: the new omicron Covid variant.

It is a good sign that several labour-intensive sectors contributed majorly to the exports basket during the month, further helping job creation in the country. According to recent official data, the share of export of specified MSME related products to All India exports during 2019-20 and 2020-21 were 49.8 per cent and 49.4 per cent respectively. These figures reflect the key role MSMEs are playing in our exports.

Meanwhile, another set of official data shows that exports of agricultural and processed food products rose by more than 13 per cent during the first eight months of the current fiscal on YoY basis. Exports of products under APEDA basket increased from $11.67 billion in April-November 2020-21 to $13.26 billion in April-November 2021-22. This is a good sign, though exports target under the basket has been set at $23.71 billion for 2021-22.

There are concerns, however. Imports yet again rose over $53.15 billion in November, with a whopping growth of over 57 per cent, leading to trade deficit of $23.2 billion. In October also, imports had increased, rising by 62.51 per cent. The Centre should urgently take a detailed analysis of this situation. Also, with the renewed fear over the new omicron Covid variant, it is the right time to prepare an export strategy to protect the sector from possible turbulence.

I invite your opinions.

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