Minister of Railways and Commerce & industry Shri Piyush Goyal has urged the industry to aim for the target of $500 billion of service exports. Addressing the inaugural session of the industry chamber Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)’s India-UK Annual Conference virtually on Tuesday evening, he said that this was eminently doable.
“We are all confident that under Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s leadership, India will get back to our $5 trillion economy target and it is time we leverage on this,” said Goyal.
The minister said that in the week from September 8-14, the value of exports was $6.88 billion, up by 10.73 per cent over the same period of the previous year.
“This is indicative that India is in a move to get back, our resilience is showing, our confidence is emerging and our can-do spirit is reflected in all these numbers,” he added.
Goyal expressed the belief that the time was ripe to have an early harvest between India and the UK.
He said, “We should start an engagement on the free trade agreement (FTA). It is the need of the hour. We should look at the preferential trade agreement so that we can demonstrate to the whole world sincerity and seriousness of UK-India engagement. In bilateral agreements between the two nations, we give some and get some. We are able to benefit businesses and create jobs on both sides of the table.”
He added that it needed to be taken forward expeditiously. Talking about the initiative between Japan, Australia and India towards resilient supply chains, he said that a similar initiative must be taken forward with the UK, Europe, US and certain other countries in Latin America and Africa.
The minister said that there were many industries with a huge potential to work with businesses in the UK, where the UK was a net importer in a big way, where India had a competitive and comparative advantage to be able to serve the UK’s requirements.
He said, “We have had a very good dialogue in terms of considering how we can prepare before January to see if engagement with the UK can be taken to the next level.”
He said that the UK certainly could benefit significantly from India’s healthcare offerings. India offered a huge potential to give quality medical support at affordable prices and at a speed that they would not get in the UK.
The minister said that the confidence that CII has demonstrated in terms of India’s ability to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic was truly remarkable.
Return to Growth Trajectory Inevitable
“We will rapidly recover, ensure businesses come back on track and we will return back to the growth trajectory. We believe our manufacturing ecosystem will grow by $300 billion in the next five years. For boosting the domestic consumption and exports, we are focusing on the 24 industry sub-sectors.”
Goyal said that India had ensured that all its international commitments were met during the pandemic.
He said, “This is the trusted partnership India offers to the world which has been recognised. All through the pandemic, our services exports were at 90 per cent of last year’s level of the corresponding period. This has added to the credibility of India as a trusted partner the world over.”
Expressing happiness over the rapid financial recovery in India, Goyal said that Railways freight loading has increased by 4 per cent in August 2020, as compared to the corresponding period last year. In the first 13 days of September, the Railways had carried 12 per cent more freight compared to the same period last year.
Talking about digitalisation, Goyal said that the Prime Minister wanted Wi-Fi to be reached to every corner, every village of the country in the next 1000 days.
“I am certain partnership between government and industry will ensure that we make this a grand success. It is extremely important in the post-COVID-19 world. India has been a beneficiary of huge investments made in the last six years in several such initiatives. All these have held India in good stead during the pandemic,” the minister said.
He added that, in fact, India had currently witnessed as to how certain countries were indulging in a lot of data management and data crunching that was not in the best interests of national security.