New Delhi: Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath on 20 April 2007 said that India now must gear up for agricultural exports apart from export of manufactured goods and services. Speaking at the National Conference on Foreign Trade Policy and Procedures organized by the CII, the minister said that agriculture and farm products would be the thrust area for exports for the next three years.
Kamal Nath said agriculture still contributes 24% to the GDP, and it will have to contribute to our export growth in the coming years, if we are to wipe out our trade deficit. Export target for the current year has been targeted at $160 billion for the current year.
The minister also said that India’s services exports should move from BPO to Knowledge Process Outsourcing and Engineering Process Outsourcing, since smaller countries like Philippines are becoming more competitive in BPO segment. He said that the industry would have to remain alert to technological and demographic changes taking place in the world,so as to remain globally competitive.
The commerce minister also lashed out at the developed world, saying that the US and Europe are turning out to be the biggest protectionists in world trade, since “they are not globally competitive in almost anything.”
The minister said that the government is now looking at setting up Food Parks with private participation.
“The government is now promoting food parks. The government will acquire the land but as it cannot run the parks it will be managed by the private sector,” the minister said. He said the parks would have facilities for sorting and grading of agriculture produce for export.
He said that investment in post harvest infrastructure in India has started with the entry of Indian companies in organised retail. “They will drive the growth in agriculture sector. We must produce domestic surplus in the agriculture sector which is exportable,” Nath said.
Allaying fears of exporters about infrastructure bottlenecks, the minister said that India is today building more national highways than any other country in the world.