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Indian Exports Exceed Expectations, Providing Boost To Economy: Joint Secry, Commerce Ministry

Commerce Ministry has set a target of USD 1 trillion for both merchandise exports and services exports by 2030 in the short term

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India's exports have shown impressive growth in both services and merchandise trade, said Srikar K Reddy, Joint Secretary, Union Commerce Ministry on Thursday.

Speaking on 'India’s free trade agreement with UAE– Tapping the potential for enhancing trade and investments', he said that overall exports for the financial year 2023 have reached USD 770 billion, with merchandise trade accounting for USD 447 billion.

"This represents a growth of 13 per cent overall, with a 6 per cent growth in merchandise trade compared to the previous year," he added.

India's current gross domestic product (GDP) of approximately USD 3.5 billion is expected to reach USD 30 to USD 35 trillion over the next 25 years, with an annual growth rate of 6-7 per cent, stated Reddy.

He further stated that exports are expected to contribute at least 25 per cent to the Indian economy and GDP. 

He informed that the Commerce Ministry has set a target of USD 1 trillion for both merchandise exports and services exports by 2030 in the short term.

Reddy highlighted that the service sector has experienced exceptional growth, with a growth rate of over 26 per cent this financial year, reaching around USD 323 billion. 

He emphasised the importance of external trade in a country's economic growth, particularly in the area of exports to other countries, as India works to achieve its ambitious targets of reaching USD 5 trillion in the next few years, and USD 10 trillion with a goal of becoming a developed country in the next 25 years.

Reddy informed that free trade agreements play a critical role in providing increased market access by reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers for Indian products. 

"India is currently negotiating agreements with countries that have complementary trade relationships, such as the UAE, Australia, the UK, Canada and the EU," he mentioned. 

These agreements aim to protect domestic industries in sectors where there is competition and to increase market access for a variety of products.

Regarding FTA with UAE, Reddy highlighted the importance of the longstanding special relationship between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Hitender Mehta, Managing Partner at Centrum Legal, highlighted the significance of communication and enforcement of agreements to achieve the target of USD 100 billion in the next five years. He also stressed the importance of understanding the philosophy and approach behind agreements, including the negative list and modalities. 

Mehta noted that India has 13 bilateral free trade agreements, including the most recent one with Australia. 

He further discussed the role of WTO in multilateral trade negotiations and how WTO rules are incorporated into bilateral trade agreements. He also shared statistics on India's trade performance with Asian countries, Japan, South Korea, and South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA).

Meanwhile, Saurabh Sanyal, CEO and Secretary General, PHDCCI, highlighted the historic achievement of signing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and UAE a few months ago. 

He mentioned that the agreement aims to increase merchandise trade between the two countries by USD 100 billion in the next 5 years. 

Over the years, India's trade relationship with UAE has grown substantially, and the CEPA is expected to take it to new heights. 

Also, UAE is India's third-largest trading partner, with total trade between the two countries standing at approximately USD 73 billion, following China and the US. 

Under the India-UAE trade agreement, UAE has offered duty elimination on over 97 per cent of its products, which accounts for 99 per cent of India's exports to UAE.