Washington: Indian exporters still face weak demand from Europe and the United States, so they are setting their sights on new markets, Union commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said on Tuesday.
“The traditional destination of Indian exports was Americas, Europe and Japan and all these markets have fallen. The economies are in contraction, so we do not know when the demand returns to pre-recession level,” Sharma said.
“We’ve decided to look beyond” those traditional markets and explore new trade possibilities in other parts of the world, he told Reuters television.
Sharma, who was in town for a global summit on services trade issues and a meeting with US trade representative Ron Kirk, said India had come through the global crisis in better shape than many developed economies.
“Our financial institutions are robust, our banks have liquidity and we have huge domestic consumption,” Sharma said.
Many domestic sectors are experiencing “double-digit” growth despite the drop-off in exports, he said.
Although the world’s second-most populous country, “our share of global trade is less than 2%,” Sharma said.
The Indian government also has cushioned exporters against the recent strengthening of the rupee by making sure they have access to “dollar credit,” he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Washington in late November to meet with President Barack Obama.
Both leaders have committed to a conclusion of the long-running Doha round of world trade talks by the end of 2010, which would be six years behind schedule.
“In the present economic climate, it would be in the interest of the world and global commerce that we have a successful conclusion of this WTO round,” Sharma said.
The next big milestones in those negotiations will be the World Trade Organization ministerial in Geneva in November, followed by a meeting of G-20 ministers sometime in early 2010, he said.
In the meantime, negotiators are working in Geneva to resolve differences on agriculture, manufacturing and services that have long blocked an agreement.
“We hope they make substantial progress. We have given them a political direction. We will review the progress, mindful of the fact that the leaders have once again reaffirmed the resolve to have this concluded by 2010,” Sharma said.