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Exim Bank launches schemes to promote SME exports

Mohan Padmanabhan

Kolkata , Nov. 11

EXPORT-Import Bank of India has now devised various innovative support programmes for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the export sector, both in terms of equity (in select cases) and loans.

It also partners these enterprises in their quest for globalisation by helping them penetrate and retain a presence in overseas industrialised countries.

The bank's newly set up Export Marketing Services (EMS) programme provides services such as identification of new buyers; undertaking discussions on behalf of the SME and generating orders; advice on setting up of sales partners, distribution networks and overseas ventures, and location of sales offices abroad.

Mr T. C. Venkat Subramanian, Chairman and Managing Director, Export-Import Bank of India, spoke to Business Line at the sidelines of the Exim Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry here recently. He said that the bank, having identified SME exporters as significant target clients, was now seeking to create an enabling environment to promote two-way transfer of technology, trade and investments for SMEs.

Pointing out that credit facilities for SME exporters were now available for financing at all stages of the export cycle of Indian firms, he said the bank supports the companies' strategic export development plans. It also provides term loans towards supply-side upgradation and funds for export marketing activities.

Citing the huge opportunities for a software push in agriculture exports, Mr Subramanian said the bank has already run a `clusters-of-excellence' programme jointly with Nasscom for assisting software SMEs achieve international quality standards. The programme was aimed at helping SMEs raise exports to the US and other developed countries.

Earlier, making a presentation at the Exim Summit, he said successful Indian exports were driven by home-grown competition (such as that for auto components), unlike Chinese, Hungarian and Mexican exports that were largely driven by transnational companies, which resort to substantial buybacks.

Blaming the low yield for India's sluggish agri-exports, he said there was a need for greater technology inputs to make them competitive globally. He also advocated the cluster level approach for SMEs to tackle mounting transaction costs.

According to a recent paper published by the Exim Bank on `Export performance of SMEs in India,' "SMEs are often weak economic actors if considered individually, but they can reach high levels of competitiveness if they work in a cluster environment ensuring complementarities, common activities, collective goods and institutional stability." It lamented that "at present, we do not have any policy for providing special assistance for the development and upgradation of specific industry clusters."

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