NEW DELHI: The Commerce Ministry today said it will focus on six areas, including reviving SEZs and according priority sector status to export credit, with a view to giving a boost to overseas shipments, which have been on a decline since December 2014.

The other focus areas are MSMEs, promoting organic produce; involving missions and embassies to promote trade and removing issues of EXIM Bank and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC).

These issues, among several others, were discussed during the first meeting of reconstituted 70-member Board of Trade.

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who chaired the meeting, said the government is committed to providing all the support to exporters to boost outbound shipments. “We are going to hand hold sectors that need help,” she said, adding that “we will be working on these areas in the next few days”.

On special economic zones (SEZs), she said the ministry would work on improving the potential of these zones as they are sitting on huge land bank.

“We will meet with different line ministries. We will call up a SEZ specific focus meeting with departments, including economic affairs and CBEC, and industry experts,” Sitharaman said.

She said as suggested by ICICI Bank MD Chanda Kochhar, the ministry will take up the issue of according priority sector status to export credit with the Finance Ministry as it would help in promoting exports.

She said the ministry would also discuss with the RBI and the Finance Ministry about the issues being faced by EXIM Bank regarding more financial flexibilities.

“We will hold interactions with Indian High Commissions and Embassies along with their commercial and economic wings in order to make them more vibrant and understand requirements of exporters,” she told reporters after the meeting.

The minister said that the government always give special attention to MSMEs as they contribute significantly in the exports besides the ministry will focus on promoting exports of organic produce.

During the meeting industry raised the issue of minimum alternate tax and dividend distribution tax on SEZs; problems in getting credit for MSMEs and extending line of credit to boost exports.

Industry leaders who attended the meeting include Kochhar, Biocon MD Kiran Majumdar-Shaw, Dr Reddy’s MD Satish Reddy and TVS MotorBSE 0.65 % Company Chairman Venu Srinivasan.

Falling for the 15th month in a row, exports dipped 5.66 per cent in February to USD 20.73 billion due to contraction in shipments of petroleum and engineering goods amid tepid global demand.