With the emerging global trade war expected to throw up tremendous opportunities for Indian companies, representatives of trade bodies, small industry associations, banks and corporates felt a right ecosystem with a simplified Goods and Services Tax regime, lower taxes and greater lending support will help Indian SMEs tap the export potential.

Speaking at a panel discussion, ‘Tapping into Global Trade — Challenges and Opportunities,’ at the SME Growth Summit presented by ICICI Bank and BusinessLine , the panellists urged the government to provide financial assistance to SMEs, assured orders for a minimum period of 3-5 years, availability of bank credit, tax rebates for Research and Development (R&D) and enhanced export incentives.

“Tamil Nadu is a forerunner in the small-scale industries model and it has the capability to produce goods of any international standards,” said CK Mohan, former General Secretary, Tamil Nadu Small & Tiny Industries Association (TANSTIA). “But small industries must be allowed to establish themselves in the domestic environment before they think of exports,” he added.


R Sundaram, MD & CEO, Aerospace Engineers Pvt Ltd, Salem, said that in some cases companies have to wait for more than 60 months to get their a return on investment, but banks do not wait for such a long period.

“But small companies can do wonders with the available government support and if they are ready to innovate,” Sundaram added.

X Arokianathan, Convenor, MSME Panel, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – Chennai Zone, said that timely availability of packing credit, delay in GST refunds, and non-usage of government mandated TReDS platform by large corporates are some of the fiscal issues that hamper small businesses.

He also said that if the government is interested to promote SMEs to export then it needs to work at the ground level in improving logistics since shipments from India take much longer time than countries like China.

However, he lauded the government’s efforts in activating Indian Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions to help businessmen build relationships with their counterparts in various countries.

Open trade model

Viral Rupani, Retail Business Head-South, ICICI Bank, said that from ‘Make in India’ the country is now progressing towards ‘Making for the world in India’.

He also added that India should emulate the open trade model of Singapore, which has maintained a trade surplus for the last 25 years, and Germany — the third largest exporter after the US and China.

“Technology is now available at throwaway prices. So, SMEs have to come out of the mindset that the technologies are only for large corporates,” said Prince Sudersanam, Head-ERP Product Development & Delivery, Ramco Systems.

The panel discussion was moderated by Lokeshwarri SK, Chief of Research Bureau, BusinessLine .