Herald: Can Goa export some other product after the mining ban?

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Can Goa export some other product after the mining ban?

23 Dec 2018 05:58am IST
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23 Dec 2018 05:58am IST

With export of iron-ore virtually nil, the overall exports from Goa has dropped down drastically. However, with one window closed, there is always a scope for newer avenues opening up. The issue is how to use these windows. VIKANT SAHAY finds out what is on the plate for Goa to export.

Goa in the past has been a major source for exports, particularly iron-ore. However, with the closure of mining, exports from the state has dipped, except in the area of software. Efforts are now being made to look into other avenues where Goa can make a niche is the export platform. This could be in the field of Pharmaceuticals, light engineering, ship-building, software, agro products like cashew, kokum, jackfruits, organic fruits and vegetables etc. 

The major concern is that if one has to be in the export market, the cost of product and packaging becomes few of a major determining factor for its success and relevance in the global competitive world. 

“The hindrances are the cost of the product which normally happens due to high cost of public administration as there is no ease of doing business. We are way behind in ease of doing business and we are not export centric state. Secondly, the high logistics cost makes the product way too expensive in the export market and we are unable to compete with major exporting countries like China and we lose out. Every trans-shipment which happens through the containers, one shipment becomes expensive by $ 150-200 and hence, we require port to port connectivity and usage of inland waterways,” said the former President of Goa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and President of Manufacturing Association of IT (MAIT), Nitin Kunkoleinker.

Since India does not have a proper EXIM balance, he added that for Goa in particular, training of people is a must. “We need to skill to scale and vice-versa. China has an export-led growth and they are very efficient in this sector and they participate in global value chains. Indian is still at a very low level. So to compete with them, it will require huge reforms and mindset to overcome this barrier of making our product competitive in international market. Also, no country can manufacture everything for oneself. If anything has to be imported, it has to be imported. Also, Free Trade Agreements whether it is multilateral (WTO, ASEAN etc) or bilateral, has to be exploited at the very best.India had in the past allowed market access to the foreign goods which killed the India local industries as they captured the market and India’s export was abysmally low. Hence, India will have to re-negotiate some of these FTAs,” said  Kunkoleinker. 

Before we look into the macro picture, what is required in Goa is to create a hub for Agro products which can be processed, treated, packaged and certified and made export ready at these Agro export processing zones. 

“Traditionally Goa exports were centered around iron-ore and during 2010-11 and 2011-12 the iron-ore exports reached a peak of almost Rs 15,000 crores respectively and today it is almost nil. Now the majority of exports from Goa is on pharmaceutical products which hovered around Rs 10,000 crores or so during 2017-18. Also we are exporting marine products, light engineering products, optical fibre, ophthalmic lenses and some vegetable and fruits which includes cashew. However, all the above are in minor quantity as compared to pharmaceutical products. We now need to channelize the export from Goa, instead of Mumbai and then it will directly benefit the Goan logistical industry,” said the President of GCCI,   Sandip Bhandare. 

Financial activities will generate money and economic activity will help regenerate more income for the local areas in Goa. Once we see exports of pharmaceuticals directly from Goa port, we will see generation of lots of jobs and activity which includes transportation, warehouses, cold-chain, processing plants, certification offices, etc. 

When asked how does the GCCI sees the export industry in Goa after the closing down of iron-ore mines, the President of GCCI Mr Sandip Bhandare said, “We are looking primarily at three segments. One of course is pharmaceuticals which can be developed further. Secondly, light engineering goods production, which are non-polluting industry should be encouraged and third we need to tap the food and fruit products because we can also utilise the agricultural land present with us and we can also have processing zones for value addition to fruits and vegetables.” 

Assistant Director, Trade Promotion, World Trade Center Goa,  Cyril DeSouza when asked how would WTC Goa help exports from Goa, said that, “We are giving full support to the state government and we will be playing our supplementary role in it. We want to offer support of the World Trade Center Association (WTCA) which is head quartered at New York and through them we will have a network of 320 World Trade Centers in 92 countries and we can reach out to any country through this network which will give tangible results. Apart from that we about 500 metric tonnes of rice which we are trying to export but there are certain parameters which we have to meet with.  We have requested a small place at WTC Mumbai where Goan agro products can be displayed so that people coming from all over the world can see it and it may generate business. We have proposed it for cashew, jackfruit, kokum and coconuts along with rice and paddy.”

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