New Delhi– The central and the state governments need to synergise their efforts in a bid to boost Indian exports on a sustainable basis, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday.

“Though, since last January we have managed to contain our trade deficit due to controls on imports, there is an immediate need to synergise our efforts and jointly take appropriate steps to boost India’s exports – which is the only sustainable way in today’s international trade environment,” she said here addressing officials from the states and central ministries at the Council for Trade Development and Promotion meeting.

The Council members include Trade and Commerce Ministers from states, besides secretaries of the central government and industry representatives, including the Federation of Indian Export Oraganisations (FIEO).

The Minister sought suggestions on improving export competitiveness and “on how can we partner in the adoption of such measures to create an environment conducive for exports.”

“One such area which requires immediate intervention is that of facilities for testing, certification, trace-back, packaging and labelling,” she said.

Signalling a definitive reversal of the continuous decline in Indian exports earlier in the year, official data last month showed these grew for the third month in a row at $20 billion in November, an uptick of 2.29 per cent over $19.56 billion in November 2015. The pace of increase of exports in November, however, slowed sequentially from the 9.59 per cent growth in October at $23.51 billion worth of merchandise exports that month.

Sitharaman also said the Central government is trying to formulate a scheme which could provide financial support and supplement states’ efforts to create export infrastructure.

“I hope, we can soon succeed in achieving a consensus for the roll out of the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme,” she said, adding so far only 17 states have developed their export strategy aligned with the national policy on trade.

“I would like to take this opportunity to exhort the state governments to develop and pursue appropriate export strategies in line with national Foreign Trade Policy and we would be happy to associate in such efforts,” she said.

Sitharaman also underlined the need to focus on services exports, she said there is a need to diversify services exports basket by enabling more sectors and to breach more markets.

“Other areas like medical tourism, nursing and healthcare, education, audio-visual media also afford an excellent potential which can be harnessed. For this, we need to develop the right competencies like language skills for the East and North East Asian markets,” she said.

Sitharaman also urged all the states to consider organising bi-monthly meetings with the exporters to sort out infrastructure and tax related issues, which would go a long way in improving India’s trade competitiveness. (IANS)