Responding to February 2021 export figures, Sharad Kumar Saraf, President, FIEO, said that the monthly exports declined marginally by 0.25 per cent to US$ 27.67 billion mainly on account of container shortages across the country and limited supply disruptions in the last week of the month due to increasing Covid cases in certain states. All the major sectors of export, which during the previous month were in positive territory, continued with a similar positive growth trend during February also. Saraf said that we continue to see signs of further revival not only in the order booking positions but also in the demand from across the globe, paving way for much better days and months for the sector. However, rising exports from China has led to the shortage of containers in the region as most of the empty containers are available only for exports from China because the shipping lines and container companies are being paid hefty premiums for bringing empty containers back to China.
FIEO President added that the exports of other cereals along with oil meals, iron-ore, jute mfg. including floor covering, rice, cereal preparations and miscellaneous processed items, meat, dairy and poultry products, carpet, spices, drugs and pharmaceuticals, handicrafts excl. hand-made carpet, ceramic products and glassware, cotton yarn/fabrics/made-ups, handloom products etc., tobacco, plastic and linoleum, mica, coal and other ores, minerals including process and organic and inorganic chemicals showed either a very high or impressive growth or were in positive territory showing signs of further improvement.
He also said that negative growth in exports of major products including petroleum products, oil seeds, leather and leather manufactures, cashew, gems and jewellery, RMG of all textiles, electronic goods, fruits and vegetables, man-made yarn/fabrics/made-ups etc, engineering goods, tea, coffee and marine products, which have major contribution in the country’s exports basket and also related to labour-intensive sector of exports have been of key concern. Further an increase in February 2021 imports by about 7 per cent to US$ 40.55 billion compared to the same period during the previous fiscal led to a trade deficit of USD 12.88 billion, which is an increase of 25.84 per cent during the month.
He urges the government to soon notify the RoDTEP rates to remove uncertainty from the minds of the trade and industry thereby forging new contracts with the foreigner buyers. Saraf also reiterated that the government must address some of the key issues including timely announcement of the new FTP, adequate availability of containers, release of the required funds for RoDTEP, MEIS and clarity on SEIS benefits, softening of freight charges, resolving risky exporters’ issues and continuance of seamless refund of IGST. Besides long pending demand for the creation of an Export Development Fund for marketing of Brand India products and various other infrastructure bottlenecks also needs to be looked into to bring back exports on the double-digit growth trajectory.