Facilitating Exports

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Goa has potential to be a valuable export hub

THE state government released on Thursday an export strategy which aims at facilitating exporters in the state through measures covering policy, infrastructure, common facility, ease of doing business and promotion. The policy has been prepared by the Federation of Indian Exports Organisation (FIEO) in collaboration with the department of industries, trade and commerce of the state. It is good to see an export strategy that has a diversified objective: it seems to harness the potential in information technology, shipbuilding, tourism, agriculture and allied activities for export. These are some of the areas which have not been exploited by the state for export so far. Goa has been exporting pharmaceuticals, minerals, marine produce, electronics, optical fibre and chemicals. It is a pity that despite high export potential due to availability of all modes of transport, the state contributed just 0.69 percent of India’s total exports in the year 2017-18 and was ranked sixteenth. The value of goods exported by the state in the year 2017-18 was $2,103.17 million, which can be increased substantially if the export potential of Goa is fully exploited.

The export strategy document has identified the Mormugao Port Trust, the Dabolim airport and the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Verna as the three export centres. However in their present conditions, as the document rightly notes, all the– three export centres face bottlenecks in logistics infrastructure. The inadequate logistics infrastructure at MPT Vasco was a major bottleneck. The port requires more feeder vessels, reefer plug points for sea feed exporters, additional berths for foreign vessels and custom clearance during night hours to facilitate exports seamlessly. As for the Dabolim airport, it lacks space in the first place. Then there was the absence of plant quarantine officers (during late hours) and pelletisation facility for pharmaceutical products that hinder exports. As the makers of the export strategy realised, building the required facilities at the Dabolim airport will need a huge investment. With the new Mopa airport being developed as an export hub, it seems unlikely that the central government would want to invest in the Dabolim airport. As for the ICD facility at Verna, it is being used only by a few companies. Their number has to increase substantially.

Other than minerals, pharmaceuticals and marine produce Goa has the potential for export of agricultural produce, such as Mankurad mango, Canacona chillies, cluster beans, bottle gourds, green chillies, coconut and organic jackfruit. They can find markets among the Goan diaspora and beyond. Organic rice, such as that produced in Chorao, has already found a niche market and can be aggressively promoted. A proper marketing strategy with a commitment and a target has to be followed to sell Goan produce overseas. The government has to create awareness among producers of the potential of export while building a bridge between them and the Goan overseas. The agriculture and horticulture officials have been implementing various schemes to encourage farmers of the state to improve the quality and quantity of various agricultural produce. The government and the private sector will have to get together to improve the infrastructure for facilitating farm produce export.

Incidentally, the FIEO had in a report to the central government last year had suggested that the Centre focus on improving logistics, ease of doing business and modern trade infrastructure as that can help exports to touch $1 trillion in the next three years. A reduction of logistics cost by 10 per cent can help boost the country’s exports by about 5 to 8 per cent. Goa can play a bigger role in adding to exports by following the strategy that has been prepared by the agency. The state government should lose no time in facilitating the creation of the necessary infrastructure to help exports. The roads leading from the industrial estates to the export hubs should have a high life expectancy (at least 20 years) which will help cut costs of logistics and boost exports and make it profitable. The government should work towards removing the bottlenecks at the MPT, the Dabolim airport and the Verna depot. The state government needs to mobilise the collaboration and participation of and assistance from the central government and the private sector for building up the right infrastructure.