Government closely monitoring trade amid Russia-Ukraine crisis: Piyush Goyal

Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, he said Indian wheat exports are set to cross 70 lakh metric tonnes this year from merely 2 lakh metric tonnes two years ago.
Government closely monitoring trade amid Russia-Ukraine crisis: Piyush Goyal
Piyush GoyalImage credit: PTI

The government is continuously monitoring the opportunities that the Russia-Ukraine war has opened up for India and is in dialogue with traders to ensure more exports of wheat and other commodities, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal told the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, he said Indian wheat exports are set to cross 70 lakh metric tonnes this year from merely 2 lakh metric tonnes two years ago.

Mr Goyal said many ships and containers have been blocked in several European countries following the Russia-Ukraine war and the crisis has only deepened, especially after the COVID-19 crisis.

"The government has maintained dialogue with shipping companies and those who operate containers. The government is keeping a close watch on the situation and whatever steps are required to be taken it will take action," he told the members in the upper house.

He also said that the government is in dialogue with exporters and importers and those involved in business and various measures are being taken to ensure that payments come on time and businesses do not suffer.

"India, despite the constraints due to Covid, has achieved exports of USD 400 billion, which is historic as India has never achieved this figure," he also said.

The minister said India has been continuously monitoring the opportunities this opens up for the country and Indian exporters.

"We have produced good quality wheat and our exports have grown. From 2 lakh metric tonnes two years ago, our exporters have exported 10 times more than 21 lakh metric tonnes last year and in the current year, we will close the year with over 70 lakh metric tonnes in a year.

"We are working in coordination among various ministries for a smooth shift. Because Ukraine and Russia were large exporters of wheat, we are on track to increase our wheat exports to current importers. Agriculture department is in dialogue with various countries for the process to be speeded up and expedited so that newer markets for wheat can be sought," Mr Goyal said.

He said when the entire government is involved in this, efforts are there to provide high-quality wheat, just as Indian rice has become a premium product in the world.

To another supplementary, the minister said as regards trade is concerned, trade stands on its own legs and diplomacy and geo-politics stands on its own legs.

"It is important that the two should not be mixed up, while one may have an impact on the other."

Due to our excellent relations with many countries, Mr Goyal said, we are able to expand our trade and there is excitement and interest among many countries to have economic partnerships.

"However, our national interests and strategic interests will always be supreme over any bilateral relations that we may have with any country," he noted.

In his written reply on the impact of the Ukraine crisis on Indian industry and commerce, Mr Goyal said, "The impact can be assessed only after the situation stabilizes. However, the Department of Commerce is holding regular consultation with all stakeholders to ensure availability of essential imports and to find alternate destinations for our exports." Sunflower oil imports have been affected as it largely came from Ukraine, it has a smaller proportion in our edible oils basket.

But, whenever there is a situation like this it obviously has an impact all over the world and almost all edible oil prices in the entire world have shot up today because of the Russia-Ukraine war, he said.

"Therefore, this is an impact that we are also facing. Fortunately, our farmers are doing a good job and we are looking at a much more robust mustard crop this year. This is also a good opportunity for us to diversify to oilseeds and other crops," he said.

To another supplementary on the MSME sector, the minister said it is an extremely important sector and the mainstay of the nation's economy and directly and indirectly they continue to contribute in a very big measure to our economy and to the export that India does.

In the years to come, their role is going to become increasingly more important, he quipped.

"Engineering has seen a growth of nearly 50 per cent. Auto components and some other small engineering items are actually highly job-creating and there is a major thrust on them. Technology and the adoption of new-age requirements of the world have also been our mainstay," he said.

With mobiles being one of the biggest success stories that India has and large mobile manufacturers have set up shop in India, he said the new policy that ₹ 76,000 crore is being offered as support from the Government of India to promote the semi-conductor industry to come in India is another massive initiative.

Never before has India come out with such a robust and futuristic technology-oriented policy and I am confident that India will soon become a global player in the semiconductor industry, he noted.

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