The commerce ministry has called a meeting of exporters on Monday to take stock of the situation, as the country's outbound shipments have been contracting for the last four months, an official said.
Exporters are expected to flag issues like extending greater support to participate in global exhibitions and fairs; expediting negotiations to conclude free trade agreements with the UK, Canada, Israel and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council); and allowing industry double weighted deduction on salary to professionals to retain talent in India.
Exports declined for the fourth-consecutive month by 10.3 per cent year-on-year to USD 34.98 billion in May, while the trade deficit widened to a five-month high of USD 22.12 billion, according to the ministry data.
Cumulatively, exports during April-May this fiscal contracted by 11.41 per cent to USD 69.72 billion, while imports declined 10.24 per cent to USD 107 billion.
Demand slowdown in major markets, high inflation in developed economies and the Russia-Ukraine war are impacting the country's exports.
Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman Naren Goenka said greater support measures from the government, such as for attending global exhibitions, would help in pushing exports.
FIEO Director General Ajay Sahai said that the RoDTEP (Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products) scheme benefits from Advance Authorisation, special economic zones and export-oriented units would also help in boosting exports.
When asked about ways to promote the shipments, Sanjay Budhia, Chairman - CII National Committee on EXIM and MD - PATTON Group, said that given the global recessionary trends, a strategic approach is required to stimulate exports.
"Resolving the specific issues faced by exporters, particularly those related to non-tariff barriers impacting supplies to crucial markets, should be the primary focus," Budhia said, adding "geopolitical strains, the rapid adoption of e-commerce and the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a rethinking of strategies for sourcing, diversification of supply routes and manufacturing".
He added that promoting technology upgradation and innovation in manufacturing processes will also help improve the quality and competitiveness of Indian products, leading to higher exports.
Budhia also said that the focus should be on skill development initiatives to enhance the capabilities of the workforce, particularly in sectors with export potential.
"Support should be provided for modernising the manufacturing processes, skill development, promoting sustainable practices and encouraging research and development to enhance the competitiveness of sectors like pharmaceuticals, chemicals, textiles and auto and auto components," he added.
Attention should also be given to the promotion of quality standards and streamlining of regulatory processes, he said, adding that this can also help India enhance its exports in the agriculture and food processing sectors.
India is already an agricultural powerhouse with a diverse range of food products, and its exports should also reflect this.
India should also set up a Trade Promotion Body with dedicated offices overseas for branding and promotion activities as well as providing marketing services to Indian exporters, he suggested.
This body, he said, would further help in the areas of trade facilitation, capacity building and awareness generation, and would assist to achieve the desired targets of USD 2 trillion by 2030 and make India a global economic powerhouse.
Further, he suggested that facilitation centres for free trade agreements, as they would become one-stop points of information on all FTA's by India and aim to reach out to exporters for developing markets in FTA-partner countries.
"These centres will facilitate a better understanding of the provisions of the FTA in goods, services and investments, and could help the Indian industry to better utilise the existing FTAs and reap the benefits from preferential liberalisation through capacity building programmes as well," Budhia said.
Investments in expanding cold chain networks can open up export opportunities for sectors like agriculture, horticulture and pharmaceuticals, he said.
Representatives from export bodies, including the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), Apparel Export Promotion Council and Council for Leather Exports are likely to participate in the meeting, the official said.