India needs to push exports of value-added products to boost overall earnings – official

By Ritwik Sinha

India needs to aggressively push exports of value-added products as part of a strategy to boost overall exports which have been stagnant for a significant period, a top trade official has said.

“This is an area which needs special emphasis considering our stagnating exports,” Mohit Singla, chairman Trade Promotion Council of India, told in an interview.

Indian exports in the last five years have hovered in the range of $300 billion touching $331 billion in 2018-19. The surge in last year’s volume is largely attributed to the growing trade rift between the US and China, which has marginally helped India.

However, according to Singla, this could be a temporary phenomenon and India’s reliance on a set of traditional stronghold commodities that are subjected to demand and supply and also price fluctuations in the international market will not be able to help take exports to the desired level.

“The need of the hour is to develop expertise in specialised products like finished food items. Tomato, which is fetched at Rs 5 per kg from the farm, can be easily converted into a Rs 60 –Rs 120 ketchup product for the international market. We will have to take this route to promote branded food products which could result in 7-8 percent escalation in our exports in the medium run,” he said.        

Pointing out at country’s maiden Agri Export Policy unveiled in December last year, which has set the target of doubling agri exports by 2022 (against the current estimated base of $30 billion), Singla said the strategy needs to be pursued seriously.

“This is a policy paper currently and not an action plan. We are hopeful it will be converted into a concrete action plan after the new government is in place paving the way for the big ticket promotion of branded food products from India,” he said, adding that Germany’s finished food products exports was twice that of India.

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