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New Delhi: Rather than fearing global challenges, Indian traders should view them as an opportunity and boost online trade in retail, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi said on Thursday.

Modi told a meeting of traders in the capital that they must ask the government to help them build capacity and provide better infrastructure facilities so that they can meet the challenges posed by global business.

The trading community is considered to be a strong support-base of the BJP.

The BJP leader said the government machinery needed to be overhauled from the prime minister down to the government representatives in villages.

Modi said traders must create virtual malls by using modern technology—if books were available online, he said then there was little reason for anyone to visit a shop.

“The main work for the external affairs ministry is to look after trade and commerce of the country. When the BJP comes to power and forms the government, the main work will be to fill the gaps created in the last decade," said Modi.

Modi said that traders had built up the image of the country, describing them as the backbone of the economy. “Trade and business are the oldest ways to influence international relations. It also helped integrate people of different regions," Modi added.

The Gujarat chief minister is on a day-long visit to the capital, during which he will also speak on ‘Economic Growth—The Way Forward’ and attend an India Economic Convention 2014.

Modi said governments had made a web of laws in the last 60 years. He said the government should make laws to empower people of the country rather than distance itself from them.

“People think that they are different from the government. We must ask ourselves why people have started feeling like this? I think that there should be one law which allows the government to subsume many laws," Modi added.

Modi also claimed that there are many departments in the government which feel that only they are honest and that all traders are corrupt.

“There should trust between the government and traders and then only solutions to problems can be found. This is our message to the people. I have full faith in the traders of our country. The BJP has an image of supporting traders for many years, we must have done something to get this image," Modi said.

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate also said that he favoured introducing a nationwide goods and services tax (GST).

Plans to introduce a GST to replace existing state and federal levies such as excise duty, service tax, and value-added tax (VAT) have long been delayed by opposition from states fearing revenue losses.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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