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Friday, Aug 02, 2002

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Ministry devising steps to fine-tune services exports

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THE Commerce Ministry is evolving a medium-term export strategy for the services sector which is WTO compatible and on the lines of the one announced for the commodities sector, Dr H.A.C. Prasad, Economic Adviser in the Ministry, told a meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Southern Region here.

With the services sector forming 53 per cent of the GDP, it is important for the country to fine-tune this strategy, and in doing so, the Government has taken the initiative to invite suggestions and inputs from exporters, industry, trade bodies, the Exim Bank and the State Governments, he said.

In addition to the information technology-enabled services (ITES), whose potential has been estimated around $17 billion, even the non-IT areas such as super speciality hospitals, education, ship maintenance, lab testing and satellite mapping have several revenue-generating opportunities, Dr Prasad said.

The Commerce Ministry is planning a series of meetings to get a feedback and concrete ideas to formulate a medium-term export strategy before the end of the year.

Already meetings have been held in Kochi and Delhi.

In the commodities sector, the country did not have the option and had to formulate a strategy early this year, which is WTO compatible since negotiations were already over. In the case of the services sector, negotiations are on and we have a better opportunity to understand and come up with a medium-term strategy that benefits the country, Dr Prasad said.

In the ongoing WTO negotiations, India has been demanding higher market access for professionals and highly skilled persons. Similarly, issues such as exports via e-commerce and uniform cyber laws, conditionalities in the developed countries should be thoroughly discussed, he said.

Mr M. Gopalakrishna, Convenor, Economic Affairs Panel of CII and Chairman of the Andhra Pradesh State Finance Corporation, said the WTO had identified 12 sectors in the services area and the policy should identify and prioritise these with suitable action plans. "We have to take an integrated view of the global market, and also benchmark our capabilities with world standards because potential exists, but the question is whether and how we can get a slice of it,'' he said.

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