The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Exports to top fiscal target

New Delhi, Feb. 12: The country's exports grew 26 per cent in the first 10 months of this financial year to $61 billion and is expected to top the 16 per cent growth target for the year to reach $75 billion.

Exports during the whole of last year were estimated at $63.4 billion. According to official data released today, exports in January this year alone were estimated at $7 billion.

Commerce minister Kamal Nath said the country's merchandise exports would exceed the 16 per cent growth target to touch $75 billion this fiscal.

He said high growth had been achieved despite the strengthening rupee and the overall impact of the rise in fuel prices on competitiveness. The country will double its percentage share of world merchandise trade and increase exports to $150 billion by 2009, he added.

The top 10 importing countries in 2003-04 were the US, UAE, China, Hong Kong, UK, Germany, Singapore, Belgium, Japan and Italy.

The country's exports have been steadily going up even as exporters have been complaining that some of the tax sops promised to them have not materialised.

A strong export growth is considered extremely important to strengthen the fundamentals of the economy, especially in view of the increasing foreign exchange required to meet the soaring oil import bill. Crude oil imports have gone up by over $10 per barrel compared with last year's prices.

Meanwhile, the second round of negotiations led by commerce secretary S. N. Menon with his Sri Lankan counterpart S. Unthamulla on the bilateral comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) were held here yesterday.

Both sides agreed to set up a trade negotiating committee and set out a clear roadmap for negotiations to conclude CEPA expeditiously. The working groups are expected to submit their reports within four months.

The negotiations would include widening a deepening free trade in goods covered by the existing India-Sri Lanka free trade agreement.

It was also decided to explore the possibility of setting up an economic co-operation fund to facilitate the flow of Indian investments in Sri Lanka.

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