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Too little, too late: Exporters

By BS Reporter in New Delhi
December 08, 2008 12:12 IST
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Exporters remain unimpressed with the fiscal stimulus measures announced on Sunday, saying they would not be enough to tide over the current crisis.

The export package includes cheaper loans to labour-intensive sectors, faster reimbursements of taxes paid on exports as well as additional guarantee for export related insurance.

However, some of the key demands like the enhanced Duty Drawback and Duty Entitlement Passbook Scheme rates were not conceded by the government.

"It is too little and too late. The measures should have come much earlier, when exports were getting impacted in the period after October," said Rakesh Shah, member of a task force set up by the Engineering Export Promotion Council to assess the impact of the global slowdown on the sector that accounts for about 23 per cent of India's merchandise export basket.

The measures came in the backdrop of a 12.1 per cent dip in exports in October, first time in more than seven years, as against a 50 per cent increase in the same month last year.

The government tried to reassure exporters, saying that it was monitoring the situation. "We will review the measures if needed.

"The committee of secretaries meets regularly to assess the situation and also meets the industry to know its views," commerce secretary Gopal K Pillai told a news channel.

Even Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia assured that if the global economic crisis deepened, there would be additional measures.

Exporters say only a few of the measures announced today will directly benefit them, while the impact of these would be seen only after four or five months.

"Cheaper loans to exporters will benefit them. There are additional allocations for reimbursements of terminal excise duty and Central Sales Tax. But these were anyway due to the exporters," said Ganesh Kumar Gupta, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations.

The measures announced today are supposed to increase competitiveness of Indian exporters in the international market. But exporters and economists point that similar measures have already been doled out by other countries.

For example, China has raised tax rebate rates three times since July 2008. "Competitors like China announced packages the moment they realised that exports were in trouble," Shah added.

But there is a growing realisation within the government that the export target of $200 billion in 2008-09 is unlikely to be achieved. "Overall exports could be in theĀ range of $175 to $180 billion," Pillai told a news channel.

Geetanjali Gems Chairman Mehul Choksi said, "The major movement in the rupee happened after July, by when our credit lines were lined up for this year. The credit periods have increased from 120 days to about 180 days, even as we are holding raw material."

These measures are aimed at helping Indian exporters produce goods at a lower price and increase their competitiveness in international markets.

With the global economic crisis shaving off demand in key markets like the United States and Europe, exporters across the globe have to provide price benefits to their clients in order to ensure that they do not lose market share.

While the government ensured that labour-intensive export units get cheap loans, it promised back-up guarantee to ECGC, which is likely to ensure that banks do not deny loans to produce goods for overseas sales on the ground that the destination markets are risky.

The series tax benefits to exporters will help them bring down costs incurred on doing business with the overseas clients through agents.

The additional allocations to export incentive schemes like Market DevelopmentĀ Assistance will also help the exporters in netting clients in new and emerging export destinations in regions like Africa, Latin America and Commonwealth of Independent States.

"There is a need to export to newer markets and the measures will help the exporters in doing so," said Pillai.

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BS Reporter in New Delhi
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