Exporters need "help and hand holding" as they face global headwinds and the government is looking at all options to support them, particularly small and medium players, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday. The minister's comments assume significance as India's export growth slowed to eight-month low of 3.94 per cent in July, while the rupee is strengthening and interest rates not declining fast enough. In the foreign trade policy (FTP) review, the department of commerce is focusing on those sectors which are labour intensive, exporting against all odds and which have a bearing on employment, Sitharaman said in an interview. The labour intensive sectors include leather, gems and jewelry, handicrafts and engineering. "We are looking at all the inputs from stakeholders as in what we can do in order to help exporters particularly the small and medium exporters because they are struggling to afloat," Sitharaman said. The Indian currency is holding out strong and the credit in terms of interest rate reduction is not really substantial, she said. "As a result, definitely exporters are feeling lot of heat". She added: "Manufacturers who need affordable credit, there is an issue there.
So whether I am looking at MEIS (Merchandise Exports from India Scheme) or interest subvention or anything else is getting into the details. The larger story is, they need help, they need hand holding."The five-year FTP (2015-20) provides a framework for boosting exports of goods and services besides creation of employment and increasing value addition. In 2016-17, India's merchandise shipments aggregated to USD 275 billion. Exporters have also asked the ministry to address the concerns related with Goods and Services Tax (GST) like timely refund of taxes and blockage of funds.