Commerce minister Kamal Nath’s announcement of the foreign trade policy was no more than an annual ritual. Targeting 30% growth in exports in a slowing global economy, is not ambitious, but meaningless—given how the policy has done little to deal with real constraints such as high transaction costs. With the pressures of a hardening rupee, exporters need all possible help to improve their competitive edge on efficiency grounds. That exports growth is at a four-year low is not sudden breaking news.
The minister has been extending tax and duty credit sops over the past six months, even though he ought to have initiated and pushed through a comprehensive plan, or policy—that aimed, for instance, to lower transaction time with better governance of export activities, faster port turnaround time, more container handling capacities...the to-do list is long and known. Instead, we get the usual tinkering of systems, yet again. Evidently, more sops are to cover up for chronic inefficiencies that erode exporters’ competitiveness