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Exports again rise, but labour-intensive sectors a worry

Exports for August 2017 once again showed positive growth with 26 out of 30 major product groups in positive territory barring the labour intensive sectors like apparel leather, gems and jewellery, said Mr Ganesh Kumar Gupta, President of FIEO.

Engineering goods, petroleum, organic and inorganic chemicals, marine exports, plantations, cotton yarns, fabs and made-ups, and plastics and linoleum were some of the sectors that contributed impressively to the positive growth in exports during the month.

However, labour-intensive sectors such as gems and jewellery, leather, apparel and handicrafts either posted negative growth or modest growth, which is a worrisome sign, observed the FIEO Chief.

"While we are very encouraged by the current trend in exports, I am worried about future growth as order booking position from October onwards is not very encouraging in view of increasing global uncertainties, rupee volatility and challenges in the domestic front," he said.

There was some relief to exporters in the form of reduction in GST rate on the supply of scrips like MEIS/SEIS/DFIA from 12 per cent to 5 per cent, decrease in threshold limit of Rs 20 lakh (Rs 10 lakh for specified states) without registration of job worker, and formation of a Committee under the Chairmanship of the Revenue Secretary to address the issues faced by the exports sector. The Committee will provide an institutional mechanism to resolve the problems of exporters, Mr Gupta said.

He added that exporters have stopped taking orders with least or no working capital at their disposal due to blockage of funds under GST and uncertainties looming large on refunds for the months of July to October 2017.

The FIEO President reiterated that the need of the hour was an in-depth sectoral analysis to pinpoint the factors responsible for the decline in certain sectors, to help all the employment-generating, small, medium and micro exporters.

 He welcomed the initiative of the new Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu to have a day-long session with Export Promotion Councils and leading exporters soon.


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