US-China tiff food for engineering exporters

Govt urged to come out with strategy to help them expand markets in 2 trade rivals

By Our Special Correspondent in New Delhi
  • Published 24.10.18, 2:27 AM
  • Updated 24.10.18, 2:27 AM
  • a min read
  •  
A container ship at Kochi Port. Shutterstock

The trade war between the US and China seems to have opened up a new window for engineering exporters, who have asked the government to come out with a strategy to help traders.

“There are both opportunities and challenges for us. We can increase our engagement with the US as also China, seeking to occupy the markets which would be vacated in the midst of the ongoing mutual tariff increases by the top two economies,” Ravi Sehgal, chairman of EEPC India, said.

The focus should be on value addition and increasing the competitiveness of exporters, which can be achieved by fixing some of the procedural issues for tax refunds and customs clearances, he added.

EEPC India, representing engineering exports that account for about one-fourth of the country’s total exports, said it would work with the government in identifying opportunities arising out of the new global trade paradigm, marked by the tariff war between the US and China.

According to a commerce ministry study, the hike in US tariffs on imports from China has give an opportunity to India to push for higher exports in 180 items — ranging from textiles to marine products — with additional shipment potential of up to $8.7 billion a year.

Sources said Indian exporters could look at grabbing a part of the market of about $2-3 billion or more, depending on how quickly and effectively they move.

The US has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese products this year, totalling $250 billion worth of goods, including bags, rice and textiles. Beijing has retaliated with tariffs on US goods worth $60 billion such as chemicals, meat, wheat and wine. The items where India can make inroads into the US market include shrimps and prawns, yarn, fabrics, steel and iron products, leather, rubber and wooden products.

“Arresting the cost of raw material such as steel will be of importance. Exporters, especially in manufacturing , need to keep their costs in check by getting the raw material at globally competitive prices while logistics support is also important,” Sehgal said.