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The dip in economic activity has reversed in the second quarter of the current fiscal. This has resulted in the acceleration of exports from the country with engineering exports showing the way with a scintillating performance. Engineering exports grew a whopping 44 percent amounting to a little more than $7 billion of exports in September 2017. While basic metals led the way (iron and steel exports, in itself, recorded $1 billion exports), the intermediate and finished segments of engineering also rebounded. This was on the back of a healthy growth in industrial production in August 2017 which is likely to be sustained in the coming months as the teething problems with GST ease out slowly.

If this buoyancy continues, engineering exports will touch an all-time record exports growth in the current fiscal and cross the $70 billion recorded in 2014-15. With international trade looking up, it does look at the moment that India can certainly focus on exports as a priority sector for economic growth and employment generation.

EEPC India has been fully concentrating in promoting engineering exports from the country and we had a most successful showing in MSV Brno during 9-13 October 2017 and will be hosting our trademark exhibition INDEE over 2-4 November 2017 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This apart, there are specialised trade exhibitions, where our members participate and showcase their technical skills. This has led our members to diversify their product range in different parts of the world. Our next INDEE will be in Bangkok Thailand in February 2018 and is, therefore, the world focus in this issue of the magazine. This will be the third INDEE to visit Bangkok, the last time being five years ago. It is anticipated that participation in the exposition in Thailand, which is the second-largest economy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), will facilitate entry to the markets of other ASEAN member-states. I do hope our members will take this opportunity to explore new markets and participate in INDEE Thailand.

It has been our endeavour to continuously provide various policy instruments to our members to help them become globally competitive. On 23 October 2017, we signed an MOU with Punjab National Bank for the purpose of developing activities/schemes to augment the growth of Forex business of our members belonging to the SME/Merchanting sector. These activities will be determined by mutual understanding as also the areas of such mutual cooperation.

The MoU intends to facilitate easy access to finance facility at competitive interest rates for all our members belonging to the SME sector and Merchant exporters; provide Foreign Currency Loan facilities for working capital and term loan under SME/Merchant segment at competitive rates aligning with the internal and external rating of the company/firm as per laid down guidelines of PNB; and also set up facility for online submission of credit applications for EEPC members to meet their credit requirements. With India likely to come out of the Annex VII list of countries under the WTO’s ASCM, it is these kinds of measures to cut operational costs that are likely to help us maintain our competitiveness in global markets.

It would, however, be remiss if I do not mention some worrying features that the government needs to address quickly. The CBEC has notified the 0.1 percent GST rate for Merchant exporters purchases from their respective suppliers but the conditions mentioned in the Notification are virtually a no-go for this category of exporters. EEPC India has written to the Government in this regard, and we have suggested some changes so that the 0.1 percent benefit given by the GST Council to the Merchant Exporters becomes feasible for them to benefit from. Similarly, there is the new system of electronic seals that is fraught with many imponderables and is likely to raise cost of doing exports. EEPC India has requested that the system of e-Seals be postponed to 1 April 2018 while the glitches in the scheme are removed.

The external demand is strong and our member exporters are looking forward to take advantage of such external conditions and it is our ardent wish that implementation issues should not come in the way of achieving the potential that exists at this crucial juncture.

Let me end by wishing you all season’s greetings and do hope that you will enjoy this edition of the magazine

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