Rs 10,000-crore scheme to develop 700 districts as export hubs on cards

The commerce and industry ministry has proposed a Rs 10,000-crore scheme to develop 700-odd districts of the country as export hubs which will be part of the upcoming foreign trade policy. An announcement to this effect is likely in Budget 2022-23.

“The contribution of the Centre will be almost Rs 10,000 crore and the rest would be done by the states. So, the scheme would have a larger outlay,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified.

States’ contribution could be Rs 5,000-6,000 crore, according to people aware of the matter.

Under the ‘Districts as Exports Hub’ initiative, products and services with export potential have been identified in all districts of the country, including agricultural and toy clusters and products with geographical indications.

In the next three to five years, the government is aiming at a double-digit export growth from 500 districts of the country.

India’s merchandise exports surged a record 38.91% year-on-year to $37.81 billion in December 2021 and amounted to $301.38 billion in the April-December period.

“District as Exports Hub is an initiative right now, but it doesn’t have any budgetary support. A proposal has been made to the finance ministry to launch a new scheme,” said the official.

Under the initiative, an institutional mechanism has been set up in each district in the form of District Export Promotion Committees, whose primary function is to prepare and act on district specific export action plans in collaboration with all the relevant stakeholders from the Centre, state and district levels.

Besides developing a database of all potential exporters in each district, work is also on to build an interface with the Indian Missions abroad to provide them access to exporters in each district for them to market outside India and find potential buyers.

The Centre also plans to assist states and UTs to prepare an annual ‘Export Ranking Index’ of districts in the respective state to rank each district on its export competitiveness.

Industry executives said the launch of the scheme is timely given the upcoming crucial elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Uttar Pradesh had implemented One District, One Product programme across its 75 districts. “UP has a large number of districts and such a boost will support agricultural exports from the state and the entire country,” said an industry executive, who did not wish to be identified.

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