The Union Budget is expected to introduce a 2,500 crore initiative to create 50 districts as export centres as exports face global headwinds.
The programme will assist local manufacturers in these districts in expanding production and locating prospective customers outside of India.
According to the suggested plan, 50 districts will be chosen through a challenge and given 50 crore apiece. The districts will be evaluated based on factors such export plans, attempts to solve infrastructural and logistics bottlenecks, and cluster-based export strategies.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has suggested that the Center bear 60% of the expected cost and that the other 40% be borne by the individual states because it will be a centrally sponsored programme.
Consequently, the Center will likely allocate ₹1,500 crore for the programme.
“District as Exports Hub will likely be a centrally sponsored scheme and may come up in the budget… if not before. These districts will be selected under the challenge route, and scores will be assigned based on parameters related to their preparedness…we will invite applications, and they will be evaluated,” said a senior government official.
The Centre will receive applications from the states, and evaluation and scoring will be done by a technical advisory agency. Only those districts having a robust plan will make it to the list.
“The idea is to support districts that have done robust planning to develop export competitiveness,” said the official
Queries emailed to the department of commerce remained unanswered fill press time.
Mr. Ajay Sahai, Director General and CEO of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO), said that ‘District as an Export Hub’ will be a game for exports.
“Districts are the production centres, and focussing on them to address supply-side challenges will go a long way in boosting and felicitating exports. It’s a more granular approach of moving from states to districts, which will reap huge dividends,” Sahai said.
The plan originally called for a 10,000 crore project that would cover 200 districts.
The Cabinet will then be asked to approve the “districts as export hubs” plan when the department of commerce has finished preparing a cabinet note.
The department of expenditure advised carrying out the plan in stages and first mapping its actual impact, notwithstanding the DGFT’s initial proposal to implement the plan in 200 districts.
The administration is currently looking at measures to increase exports in light of the diminishing global demand.
In September, the growth of exports dropped to 4.8%, a 19-month low.
The department of commerce has also been implementing the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme since FY17-18 with the objective of assisting central and state government agencies in the creation of appropriate infrastructure for the growth of exports.