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US-China trade tiff opens new window

The ministry is currently consulting various export councils to shortlist items, especially in sectors such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and electrical parts, where India could have an advantage

By R. Suryamurthy in New Delhi
  • Published 1.10.18, 12:44 AM
  • Updated 1.10.18, 12:44 AM
  • a min read
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The US has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese products this year, totalling goods worth $250 billion, including bags, rice and textiles. Picture: Shutterstock

The government plans to come out with a strategy to take advantage of the US-China trade war by pushing shipments of goods that may have an edge and increase the country’s exports.

“We need to identify items and push for them. We are talking to our exporters through the export promotion councils and pushing them to increase exports to the US,” a commerce ministry official said.

The ministry is currently consulting various export councils to shortlist items, especially in sectors such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and electrical parts, where India could have a comparative advantage.

The US has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese products this year, totalling goods worth $250 billion, including bags, rice and textiles.

Beijing has retaliated with tariffs on US goods worth $60 billion, such as chemicals, meat, wheat and wine.

Officials said the exporters had been asked to identify products that can be shipped to the US and China to take advantage of the tariff war.

The officials said many Indian items have become cheaper compared with their Chinese rivals after the recent US tariff hikes on Chinese products, opening up an avenue for exporters.

“Items such as electrical parts and switches are produced by small-scale industries in India. We have become cost-competitive in such items, but we do not have the large production capacity. Nobody would like to expand capacity through fresh investments as we do not know how long these sanctions will last. We have to see how to give them incentives to export,” they added.

The commerce ministry has identified 12 services sectors for which the cabinet has approved a dedicated fund of Rs 500 crore to support initiatives.

India has a two pronged agenda with its trading partners: allowing professionals from India to travel abroad and trade facilitation in services export.

A sustained 20 per cent exports growth will easily push India’s exports to a little over $350 billion this year and $400 billion in the next fiscal should be achievable, Ganesh Kumar Gupta, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (Fieo), said.

Gupta emphasised that the strategy needed to be aimed at high potential markets such as Africa and Latin America. Textiles, handicraft, handloom, leather, engineering goods, pharmaceuticals have huge potential.