States to rank districts on export competitiveness, says commerce ministry

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Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will assist states and union territories to prepare an annual export ranking index of different districts to rank each district on its export competitiveness, the said on Monday.

The union government is currently working on ‘developing districts as export hubs’ to decentralise export promotion activity. In the past, export promotion was dealt by only the Centre, without any active mechanism involving the states or districts into the decision making process of promoting goods and services produced at the grassroots level.

“District as export hub initiative–the idea to create an institutional framework in every state, going down to every district and use that framework to assess every district in terms of ongoing export activities, in terms of capacities for enhancing those activities, and making time bound action plans to take those initiatives forward. Every district is being mobilised, so every district realises its potential as an export hub,” commerce secretary Anup Wadhawan told reporters in a virtual briefing.

The larger idea is to boost domestic production and make districts active stakeholders in driving export growth of local products and services. “The objective is to enable MSMEs, farmers and small industries to get benefit of export opportunities in the overseas markets and shift focus on district-led export growth for self-sufficiency and self- reliance,” the ministry said.

There will be a district export action plan that will include identification of goods and services with export potential in the district. “The plan may include institutional/other responsibilities, specifics of policy, regulatory and operational reform, and infrastructure/utilities/logistics interventions required across the entire chain from producer/farm to the export destination, to cover aspects like production, productivity/competitiveness, improvements required in design, tie up of producers with exporters, aggregation, transportation through cold chain or otherwise, import export formalities, etc. It will also include identifying bottlenecks/Issues in GI production, registration, marketing and its exports,” it said.

The plan was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his independence day speech in 2019.

Wadhawan also said that electronic governance is a major area of priority for the government. “Our effort has been to make all our approval processes online and make them digitized, make them paperless and minimize face-to-face interaction between government and stakeholders. DGFT is at the forefront of the effort. Nearly all DGFT schemes are digitized. The application and approval process is paperless. Scrips are electronically processed and implemented. In a short span of time, the entire gamut of DGFT processes will become paperless and online,” Wadhawan said.

Such steps are expected to improve India’s ranking in ‘Trading Across Borders’ indicator of the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking, enable a paperless regulatory environment and enable transparent and predictable policy regime.

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