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Govt forms task force on policy action to cut imports

Govt forms task force on policy action to cut imports

New Delhi: A task force has been set up to identify various items and policy interventions for reducing the country's import dependence, the Government said on Monday. The terms of reference of the task force include identification of products for import substitution, assessment of domestic manufacturing capacity and identification of constraints in expanding production, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry C R Chaudhary said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

India's imports increased to $465.5 billion in 2017-18 from $384.3 billion in the previous fiscal. In a separate reply, the minister said that some countries including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have imposed ban on import of certain agricultural products.

Saudi Arabia imposed a ban on imports of chilled and frozen shrimps and cultured fish since December 2016 and February this year respectively. Similarly, Kuwait has banned imports of frozen shrimp from India since January 2017. Thailand and Mexico have slapped ban on shrimps and chilli imports. Thailand has imposed temporary suspension in view of the reported occurrence of Infectious Myonecrosis Virus (IMNV) disease, Chaudhary said, adding that Mexico's ban on grounds of detection of larva of Trogodermagranarium (Khapra beetle) in Indian Chilli. It is not feasible to quantify the losses suffered by the farmers due to such bans as alternative avenues for disposal of the produce, both domestic and international, are always available, he said.

"The government takes all possible steps to get the bans on import of Indian agricultural products lifted at the earliest. The matter is taken up with the relevant authorities in the respective countries through Indian Embassies. Corrective action, if required, is taken to eliminate the cause of ban," he added. Meamwhile, gold import in volume terms increased by 22.43 per cent to 955.16 tonnes in 2017-18, Parliament was informed on Monday. In 2016-17, the imports stood at 780.14 tonnes, according to the data shared by Chaudhary. The demand of gold in the country in 2017-18 has increased during first and second quarters and declined in third and fourth quarters as compared to corresponding period in 2016-17, he said.

"The overall import of gold in 2017-18 has increased by 22.43 per cent as compared with imports in 2016-17," he added.

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