Business Today

Too ambitious?

The government plans to bolster non oil exports. But for that it needs to act on a war footing to arrest the fall in some of India's biggest exporting sectors.

Thousands of workers in diamond cutting and polishing units of Surat and Bhavnagar, Gujarat, got about 45 days leave for Diwali this year instead of the 10 15 days that used to be the norm during the festival season. The majority of the 20,000 plus units in these export hubs shut operations a month before Diwali and are yet to start operating at full scale.

The extended holiday in the gems and jewellery sector could prove to be a nightmare for India's Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu as it shows sluggish growth, a headache for his ministry, which oversees the country's external trade. "It was a longer holiday this time, but if the situation worsens, some of the SMEs may close down," says Praveen Shankar Pandya, promoter of Mumbai based Revashankar Gems Ltd.

Such pessimism is not specific to the gems and jewellery industry. In fact, several export focused sectors such as readymade garments, leather and meat products and marine products continue to register tepid or negative growth. These gaps in India's export story are so glaring that they take the sheen off one of the biggest claims of the Narendra Modi government recovery of exports.

Statistically, there is merit in its claim that India's merchandise exports have reversed years of fall. Merchandise exports, after all, expanded 10 per cent in 2017/18. But one of the key drivers of this growth was rise in global

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