Gujarat tops the Export Preparedness Index 2020 to evaluate States’ potential and capacities, followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. The index was released by government think-tank NITI Aayog on Wednesday.The other States that have made it to the top 10 include Rajasthan, Odisha, Telangana, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Kerala.The index ranks States on policy, business ecosystem, export ecosystem and export performance. Overall, coastal States emerged as the best performers, with six out of eight coastal States featuring in the top 10 rankings.In the landlocked States, Rajasthan performed the best, followed by Telangana and Haryana, while among the Himalayan states, Uttarakhand is the highest, followed by Tripura and Himachal Pradesh. Among Union Territories, Delhi performed the best, followed by Goa and Chandigarh.“Exports are an integral and important part of self-reliant India, which is not possible without active export promotion because the fact remains that there are certain imports that are critical for us,” Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said.“These will continue, so without exports, India will not be self-reliant,” he added.Noting that per capita exports in India stood at about $241, as compared to $11,900 in South Korea and $18,000 in China, Mr. Kumar said there was a huge potential to catch up and exports was the way to go to generate employment.“In this effort, the role of the States is critical. I can’t overemphasise it. The States must recognise that exports have to be the centerpiece of their development strategy and their blueprint because of the kind of employment effect they have, the kind of value addition impact they have,” he said.The Vice-Chairman added that States should look at the possibility of a separate department for export promotion. He added that the private sector also needs to play an important role in export promotion, “so all of us in the States and in the Central government have to make sure that we create the business environment for the private sector with the private exporters to thrive.”Currently, 70% of India’s export has been dominated by five states – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. As per the report released, export promotion in India faces three fundamental challenges – intra and inter-regional disparities in export infrastructure, poor trade support and growth orientation among States, and poor R&D infrastructure to promote complex and unique exports.Mr. Kumar further pointed out that India’s merchandise exports have witnessed growth from $275.9 billion in 2016-17 to $303.5 billion in 2017-18, to $331.0 billion in 2018-19. However, the COVID-19 crisis dealt a major blow to the current fiscal. Consequently, India’s exports shrank by 60% in April 2020.
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