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Govt sets up task force to suggest ways on reducing import dependence, says official

New Delhi: The government has set up a high-level task force under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha to identify various items and policy interventions to reduce dependence on import, an official said.

The task force includes secretaries from departments of commerce, industrial policy and promotion, skill development, revenue, defence production, steel, petroleum, electronics and telecommunications.

It would suggest ways to cut import of those items which can be manufactured or explored in the country, the official added.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

The move assumes significance as India is heavily dependent on imports of several items such as oil, electronic hardware, machinery, ingredients for pharmaceuticals, gold and chemicals. On an average, India's imports stand at around $450 billion per year.

In 2017-18, the inbound shipments grew about 20 percent to $460 billion. Oil imports during the last fiscal rose 25.47 percent to $109.11 billion.

Although the increase in imports of intermediates and raw materials reflects a boost in economic activities, inbound shipments of final goods impact domestic manufacturers.

Trade experts have raised concerns over high dependence on pharmaceutical ingredients or APIs from China. At present, over 60 percent of APIs are imported from China.

A trade expert said the government needs to focus on viable manufacturing to cut import dependence.

"Focus should be on those sectors that have largest import demand. A comprehensive industrial policy would help boost manufacturing," Professor Biswajit Dhar of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) said.

Updated Date: Jul 12, 2018 17:32 PM

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