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Commerce Minister to discuss impact of COVID-19 with export promotion councils on Friday

Business Finance

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal will hold discussions on Friday, through video conferencing, with all export promotion councils on impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on the country's outbound shipments, an official said.

Representatives of sectors such as leather, apparel, carpet, pharma, and engineering will partcipate in the deliberations, besides the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), the official said.

Exporters are demanding immediate support from the government as they are facing huge cancellation of orders and deferment of export consignments.

According to FIEO, the country's outbound shipments would get impacted during the next financial year due to this.

"Big exporters can afford to pay salaries to their employees, but what about MSME players. Orders started getting cancelled from March. Enquiries have stopped. Future is looking uncertain," an exporter said.

FIEO Director General Ajay Sahai said steps like defered loan payments will help in dealing with this crisis.

Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman A Sakthivel said that the sectorhas a 12.9 million workforce, and it is hit hard due to coronavirus spread.

"Exporters are having difficulty in arranging working capital and paying interest on loans, in addition to payment in wages. The situation is so grim that survival of several units are in doubt," Sakthivel said.

"We request the government to extend the provident fund, ESI and other related benefits for workers of small establishments. This industry needs immediate relief in terms of faster clearance of banking and packing credit, late realization of export bills and raising of advance limit to 25 per cent without any collateral to ease working capital constraints," he added.

He said that an immediate and financially viable stimulus package should be announced that would ensure that losses are minimized.

Seeking immediate support from the government, the Council of Leather Exports (CLE)said shipment orders worth USD 1 billion (around Rs 7,600 crore) were cancelled in the last one week on account of coronavirus spread.

CLE Chairman Aqeel Ahmed Panaruna also urged the government for immediate relief for exporters.

Exports during April-February this fiscal dipped by 1.5 per cent to USD 292.91 billion.

Imports during the period declined 7.30 per cent to USD 436 billion, leaving a trade deficit of USD 143.12 billion.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 26 2020. 21:20 IST