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WTO facing a serious challenge admits Commerce Minister Prabhu

World Trade organization the fulcrum of international trade is facing a serious challenge to its existence and India has hinted that during the interregnum,  it would lay emphasis on bilateral trade  dealing  with all countries whether they are friends or foe.

For the first time the country is seeing a real challenge at WTO and the global trading system itself, because the countries have started putting road blocks and this  is going to be the real issue Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said while addressing the Southern Chapter of the Federation of Indian Exporters Organization here on June 21.

In the current uncertain situation India on its part was trying to be friendly with all countries. We want to make friendship with all countries including China with whom we have a huge trade deficit.

There is nothing like a friend or foe in international trade Mr Prabhu said adding considerable progress is likely to be achieved in reducing the trade balance with China. He expressed satisfaction over China’s response to overtures of allowing market access to Indian non basmati rice and pharmaceuticals.

He said the Chinese commerce minister who was in Delhi recently assured him that he would address the regulatory issues coming in the way of market access to  Indian pharma products into China. Three bilateral agreements were signed during his visit which will help to balance the trade between the two countries.

The ministry would take steps to clinch the trade treaty with European Union which will help the Indian textiles face competition with Bangladesh and Vietnam. We have also decided to increase the trade volumes with Japan South Korea and ASEANJ countries.

The government will roll out an agricultural export policy soon taking into account massive increase in production especially on the horticulture front. While the agricultural production was 285 million tons, the horticulture stood at 300 million tons. Both put together is expected to touch 620 million tones if the monsoon is on the expected lines.

Country wide and commodity wise market strategies for exports are being formulated by the EXIM bank of India and in the process identified countries and commodities which have tremendous export potential. The ministry proposed to bring out a bulletin periodically containing this vital information and will be sent to all exporters.

For the first time the ministry has opened a Logistics division where steps have been initiated to develop logistics hubs in various parts of the country. The minister urged the exporters not to compromise on quality of products and said compromise on qual;ity will bring down the image of the country. The ministry is also taking steps to ensure that all export incentives are WTO compatible.

The ministry will also set up export promotion offices in international trade centres so that the country’s diplomatic missions overloaded with work could lighten their burden in dealing with the country’s international trade.

The commerce minister who had met the state chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswamy expressed concern over the delay in locating the site for the second airport for Chennai city. He also asked the state government to finalyse a policy on startups like most of the advanced states have done.

The ministry is also working to create the ecosystem suitable for exports. We have taken up with the bank to continue financing exports industry without relaxing norms. The ministry held a meeting with Gems and Jewellery export promotion council in an effort to persuade banks to continue lending to the industry in wake of recent scams involving the industry.

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