PROMISING to help Goan agricultural and industrial producers export their products, the state government is in the process of drawing up an export strategy. The government has given the task of devising the strategy to the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO). However, the FIEO might not find the task easy as government departments do not have any databases on the type, volume and value of goods that are exported from the state. Goa exports ores, primarily iron ore, and there might be records of ore export available with the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT). The records of marine records are available with the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), but they are usually a few years old. There is no accurate and up-to-date record of export of cashew nuts, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, corrugated boxes and feni, though exports of these products has been going on for decades. What strategy would the Federation of Indian Export Organisations suggest to the state government without knowing what and how much Goa has been exporting, and to which countries? How is the state government going to formulate an export policy in the absence of data? The government has to first set up systems for collecting data. That is the primary task to which the state export commissioner Sudhir Mahajan should be focusing on before formulating an export strategy or policy.
The Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Goa office, which is responsible for granting approvals and executing various export schemes of the Union government, has no data on the volume or value of exports from the state. The DGFT Goa office only functions as a facilitator for export-import licences. The only piece of information that came from the office was that there are 1,015 exporters in the state registered with the DGFT. The DGFT officials, however, had no way to find out how many of the registered exporters or importers were active – meaning, actually doing exports. Despite the fact that there are more than a thousand registered exporters or importers in the state the office is going to close down soon and move to Mumbai. Has the decision to shift the DGFT office to Mumbai been caused by closure of mining or poor volume of exports from the state or is it a part of re-reorganization of the DGFT? Whatever the reason, the timing of the closure of the DGFT Goa office is bad as it has come at a time when the state is waking up to look at ways to increase its exports.
The state government should lobby for the DGFT keeping its Goa office. Although Goan producers in general have not been export-oriented, the export of pharmaceutical products from the state accounts for 10 per cent of the country’s total pharmaceutical exports. Mining shutdown is temporary and is likely to be resumed next year. Exports from the state include engineering goods, ophthalmic lenses, precast concrete products, handicrafts, furnishings and fashion footwear, apart from fish and cashewnuts and other products. If the DGFT Goa office is closed, Goan agricultural and industrial producers intending to export their products would have to travel to Mumbai to register or to get export-import licences. According to the captains of pharmaceutical industry, there is big scope for boosting exports of pharmaceutical products from the state. The pharmaceutical companies exporting their products have been facing problems with various departments and want their issues to be resolved so as to increase the quantity of export. Other producers might also be keen to export their products but facing problems with one or another government department. While the state did not have any export policy, to help exporters, it started the Goa State Export Market Development Scheme, 2008, which was in effect till March 31, 2011. Though there were a few takers for the scheme, it was continued by the government till December 2017.
In framing a strategy to promote exports the state government must take into account the problems faced by the exporters. The government should set up a state export agency that would keep record to all exports. The agency should also be given the responsibility of promoting exports and helping the exporters deal with licensing and approval issues. Goa has the Mormugao port for export. The Mopa airport is going to be used for cargo planes, which should be used to maximize exports from the state. As the agricultural and industrial producers in Goa have generally not been very keen on exports, the state government would have to create awareness among them about the markets abroad where they could sell their products.