Export units to resume operations next week after govt issues new lockdown guidelines

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 15, 2020 Published on April 15, 2020

Removal of restrictions in port, ICD activities to help them export items manufactured before lockdown

Majority of export units can gradually re-start their operations after manufacturing in special economic zones, export oriented units, units outside municipal limits/rural areas and industrial estates and townships is allowed to resume on April 20 as per the revised guidelines for Covid-19 containment issued by the Centre.

“This will help in opening of about 80-85 per cent of the manufacturing gradually and bring exports and manufacturing back on track. A positive signal will go out to the world that India is confident of containing Covid-19 through its well thought out and early measures,” said Sharad Kumar Saraf, President, Federation of Indian Export Organisations, adding that fresh orders will then follow.

Home Ministry guidelines

According to the revised consolidated guidelines issued by the Home Ministry on Wednesday, establishments that would be allowed to start production next week will have to make arrangements for stay of workers within their premises as far as possible or in adjacent buildings and for implementation of the standard operating protocol.

FIEO noted that the decision would also give a “psychological boost’’ to migrant workers who were getting desperate with the extended lockdown.

“The industry is also relieved as the wage and other charges will cause lesser burden on them with the commencement of production,” said Saraf.

Exporters of apparels, one of India’s largest labour-intensive export sectors, want the government to allow all garment export units, irrespective of where they are located, to resume production.

Garment exporters’ plea

“All units which export a minimum of 50 per cent of their turnover should be allowed to operate under the guidelines prescribed for SEZs and EoUs,” said A Sakthivel from the Apparel Export Promotion Council, adding that the council will ensure that all guidelines are strictly followed.

The government’s decision to allow operations of seaports and inland container depots for cargo transport, including authorised custom clearing and forwarding agents, has also come as a shot in the arm for exporters as units were facing major hindrances in transporting goods, already manufactured before the lockdown, to the ports for shipping.

Imported inputs were also lying at ports in the absence of transport facilities to deliver them to units.

Exporters had earlier complained to the government that they had suffered cancellation of over 50 per cent of export orders in the last few weeks due to Covid-19 disruptions worldwide and had warned of 15 million job losses in exports units.

India’s goods exports declined 1.5 per cent to $292.91 billion in April -February 2019-20 compared to last year. Exports increased marginally in February 2020, but are expected to fall in March 2020 because of the lockdown.

Published on April 15, 2020

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