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Bengal's share in exports to go up to 9 pc

Our Bureau

Kolkata , June 15

WEST Bengal's share in the country's exports is poised to go up to nine per cent in 2006-07 from a level of 6.2 per cent in 2001-02, according to Mr Nirupam Sen, West Bengal's Minister for Commerce and Industries.

Addressing the inaugural session of a two-day Export Summit organised on Tuesdayby Confederation of Indian Industry, Eastern Region (CII-ER), Mr Sen said the State Government aimed at a jump in exports from the State.

Besides seeking to augment infrastructure and removing bottlenecks, West Bengal's export policy envisages the setting up of an export promotion council involving different export promotion councils, chambers of commerce and commodity boards. The sectors of special focus include textiles, jute, fruits, automobiles, engineering goods, software services and leather products.According to Mr Sen, West Bengal has a ``distinct geographical advantage'' as it is flanked by Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan and also close to Myanmar. With the South Asia Preferential Trade Area becoming a reality, Kolkata could serve as the main trading hub with Siliguri as a `satellite' for India's trade with neighbouring countries. The opening up of trade through the Nathula Pass in Sikkim would provide a significant boost to trade and commerce in the region, he said.

During the period April-September 2003, the value of exports through ports in West Bengal stood at 7,761.35 crore - 6.09 per cent of India's overall exports of Rs 127,545.11 crore, he said.

In his address, Mr B. Muthuraman, Chairman of CII-ER, said international trade was greatly dependent on the strength of the global economy. In 2003, the health of the global economy was reasonably good. The global GDP went up from $32.3 trillion in 2002 to $36.2 trillion in 2003. The value of global exports went up from $6.5 trillion in 2002 to $7.4 trillion in 2003.

Mr Muthuraman said the export growth of developing countries was higher than that of developed countries. Among developing countries, Asia registered the fastest growth.

He said regional trade agreements were one of the ways of promoting intra-regional trade. Different states in India should identify their export potential in select sectors. He said there was great scope for export of pharmaceuticals, automobiles, software services, health, textiles, jute and agro-products.

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