NEW DELHI: The commerce department is firming up an export strategy focused on Africa, giving a new dimension to the government’s strategic push for ties with the continent that could offer a large market for Indian goods at a time of slowing global demand.

While India has offered a $10 billion credit line to Africa, the department has extended the benefits under the Merchandise Exports from India (MEIS) scheme to many goods headed for Africa to make the most of this credit. Senior government officials led by commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman will next week apprise Parliament’s consultative committee on plans to address India’s continuously falling exports, with a focus on Africa and the country’s neighbours. The meeting is to be in held in Goa on November 6-7.

“Since the situation is not good globally, we have decided to focus on exports to Africa and our neighbouring countries. We can use our competitiveness in these markets to increase exports. We are working on an export strategy for next week’s meeting,” said a commerce department official, who did not wish to be named.

At the meeting the committee will also discuss Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20 and its implications on exports, the official said. The steady decline in exports has triggered apprehensions that India may even miss last year’s exports figure of $310.5 billion. Merchandise exports fell nearly a quarter in September, the tenth straight month of decline, raising worries that shipments may fall short of last year’s levels.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has included exports of textiles and ready-made garments including cotton fabrics, both woven and knitted, and made-ups to the African countries under the MEIS. The industry, which has been grappling with falling exports, has approved of this strategy.

Following the revision, exports of value-added and labour intensive products such cotton dyed and printed fabrics, and made-ups, to African countries such as Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Benin, Angola, Senegal, Togo, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania are expected to receive a huge boost. “This is a very positive step taken by the government and has come as a huge relief to the exporters of cotton textiles who are faced with declining exports,”Texprocil chairman RK Dalmia said in a statement.