Friday, November 8, 2013

Govt drawing new roadmap for boosting services exports

The government is drawing a fresh roadmap for enhancing services exports through diversification and tapping of new markets, a senior Commerce Ministry official said today. An exercise has also been started to properly capture the data on the services sector, a move which will help frame policies on the sector and negotiate free trade agreements. \"Our attention is always on merchandise trade and not really on services trade. Mechanism for capturing data related to the sector is not good. It lacks substance and we also do not have survey based data,\" Additional Secretary in the Commerce Ministry Rajeev Kher told reporters here. He said an inter-ministerial group (IMG) is working on preparing the roadmap for boosting services exports and Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI&S) is collecting the data. Also read: Won\'t sell-out to Facebook or Google: WhatsApp \"IMG has formed eight working groups on sectors like logistics, health and tourism. The whole idea is getting all relevant departments and ministries together on this platform with a view to creating a roadmap for reforms in the services area,\" he said. On data collection, Kher said, the Kolkata-based DGCI&S will be the anchor and will be responsible for capturing data from three sources -- the RBI, the survey based exercise which Central Statistical Organisation and DGCI&S would do together and all other methods of collecting data. \"We are working on that and hopefully in a year we will come out with that,\" Kher said adding the CSO and DGCI&S had already done a few surveys on sectors like healthcare and tourism. He said the department would collect comprehensive data just like \"we have on goods or merchandise trade\". The ministry takes data of Balance of Payment prepared by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). To get views from different stakeholders, the Ministry is organising a two-day conclave on \'Promoting Services Export from India -Challenges, Opportunities & Issues\' starting November 12. \"On the first day, we have a separate session on data itself. Other areas which would be discussed comprehensively include logistics, accountancy, architecture and management,\" he said. When asked how India negotiate FTAs in the absence of detailed data, he said: \"When we negotiate an FTA we have a fair understanding of challenges, opportunities and possibilities.\" Kher is the chief negotiator for India-EU FTA. Services sector in India contributes around 60 percent to the GDP, 35 percent to employment, 25 percent to total trade, 40 percent to exports, 20 percent to imports and accounts for over 50 percent of FDI into the country. In 2012-13, services exports stood at USD 146 billion while imports were USD 81 billion. \"Despite such encouraging trends, it is generally observed that the exports basket of India\'s services sector is not well diversified, neither in terms of services categories nor the markets served,\" Kher said. \"We have concentrated mainly in the US and UK. We need to explore Japan and China too. Huge potential is available in several other parts including in South America,\" he added. The country is focusing on boosting the manufacturing sector, but there is an urgent need to look at the services area too. \"Over reliance on one sector (out of USD 146 billion of exports, about 80 percent is from IT/ITeS segment) and over reliance on one country is not good. Unfortunately, market diversification is not happening in the services sector,\" he added. He also said that industry chambers too do not have proper services related forums. Kher said that until the industry get sensitised about the sector, the government alone cannot do anything. India\'s share in the world exports of services has increased from 0.6 percent in 1990 to 3.3 percent in 2011.

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