India’s balance of payments this year is going to be “very very strong” on the back of significant improvement in exports and a fall in imports, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday.

He said that ‘good’ green shoots were visible in the economy and exports have shown a ‘good’ turnaround.

“We are in July at about 91% export level of July 2019 figures. Imports are still at about 70-71% level of July 2019. So, broadly, our balance of payments this year is going to be very, very strong, which is why we feel confident that Indian industry will see opportunities for themselves, will see opportunities of growth,” he said at a FICCI webinar.

India’s exports fell for the fourth straight month in June as shipments of key segments like petroleum and textiles declined but the country’s trade turned surplus for the first time in 18 years as imports dropped by a steeper 47.59%. The country posted a trade surplus of $0.79 billion in June.

Mr. Goyal said that the government was taking steps to support and promote domestic manufacturing and industry. “We shall ensure that any unfair treatment meted out to Indian industry across the world will be taken up at the highest levels on your (domestic industry’s) behalf,” he said.

He also said that some people were ‘criticising the government’s move’ to promote and support domestic industry by imposing certain restrictions on some products. Earlier ‘those people’ used to ask for steps to support domestic industry as businesses could not compete with those countries that were following unfair trade practices or were providing hidden subsidies.

‘Not licence raj’

“But when you do the necessary enablement to support domestic manufacturers and industry, you find some voices trying to give you ‘gyan’… saying no. you are going back to the licence raj. It shocks me when people do not understand as this is not business among equals,” the Minister said.

India had recently imposed import curbs on products such as television sets and tyres. Citing the example of tyres, he said it should not be the case that some country in the world does not provide access to Indian tyres, but wants to export this item to India freely.

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