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India aims to double exports to US$900b

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India on Wednesday set an ambitious target of almost doubling its annual exports to US$900 billion in the next five years as it seeks to boost the economy and provide jobs for a growing population.

[NEW DELHI] India on Wednesday set an ambitious target of almost doubling its annual exports to US$900 billion in the next five years as it seeks to boost the economy and provide jobs for a growing population.

Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government would encourage domestic manufacturing to increase exports from US$469.5 billion in the 2013-14 financial year.

She said the government wanted to increase India's share of global exports from the current two per cent to 3.5 per cent.

"This new policy lays out a stable and sustainable roadmap for India's global trade engagement in the coming years," Ms Sitharaman said at a press conference.

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Right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to bring development and new jobs to India when he swept to power last spring.

But sceptics say the government will first have to tackle corruption, unreliable power supplies and the country's dilapidated infrastructure.

Analysts said the new export target looked ambitious.

"The hurdle will essentially be the global environment, where the growth is moving up but the growth in trade is not moving in the same way," said DK Joshi, chief economist at Indian ratings agency CRISIL.

"There are also issues with India's export non-competitiveness, which is essentially on domestic factors which the government can control and address," he told AFP.

Ms Sitharaman said the government would focus on "addressing constraints within the country", including weak infrastructure and red tape.

"Our target is to move towards a paperless working environment," she said, adding that the government was working on allowing exporters to submit documents electronically.

Defence and e-commerce would be priority sectors, Ms Sitharaman said.

AFP

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