India needs to empower its MSMEs with knowledge and finance to raise their e-commerce exports, said Dr Badri Narayanan Gopalakrishnan, head of the Vision India 2047 Development unit at NITI Aayog, in Twitter Space hosted by the Plunge Daily on Tuesday. The session was also attended by Dr Arpita Mukherjee, Professor, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and Dr Avik Sarkar, Professor at the Indian School of Business (ISB) and former Head of Data Analytics Cell, Niti Aayog.
“Although we have a huge domestic economy, we need a global focus and exports to boost this growth. There is a need to address the trade deficit issue and think of various strategies to increase exports,” said Dr Gopalakrishnan who has spent 20 years as an applied economist. He has also served the Government of India at the rank of joint secretary, as Lead Adviser, Trade and Commerce, Strategic Economic Dialogue and International Cooperation, NITI Aayog, Indian policy hub.
In the session anchored by Ashutosh Bhattacharya, Public Policy Advisor & Editorial Director, Plunge Daily, Avik Sarkar emphasized the importance of government help in propelling India’s fast-rising e-commerce business. “Government backing for bilateral export agreements is critical for the e-commerce sector. Once that occurs, we will see this sector shift and grow significantly over the next five to ten years. Then we can significantly boost our export numbers and realise our economic potential,” he stated.
Contributing to the point of Prof Sarkar, Dr. Gopalakrishnan discussed the creation of a knowledge and financial infrastructure to assist MSMEs in increasing their e-commerce exports.“An average MSME is typically very less informed. They need a lot of support and guidance in terms of this kind of practical knowledge. They also need a lot of financing support. The traditional channels of export are familiar with all the procedures and facilitating policies. When it comes to e-commerce exports, we are still catching up. As a result, the financing and trade finance ecosystems must develop to assist them.”
He said that though more needs to be done, the government is already working on platforms to promote Indian MSMEs abroad. “The Government of India has started an MSME global market, a platform for the MSMEs to export globally. It is like a one-stop shop for all kinds of solutions needed to export to the global market. It’s not only meant for Indian MSMEs but also MSMEs across the world. It’s one of these rare platforms, which is available for all the buyers and sellers across the world,” he said.
Dr. Gopalakrishnan emphasised the importance of making the best use of available resources to attract investments and export demand while keeping in mind evolving geopolitical realignments throughout the world.
“We have been signing free trade agreements and trying to come up with various ways of promoting exports in all these aspects. One important thing is to leverage technology to promote exports and in that area, e-commerce plays a very important role,” he said. “There should also be a way for exporters to know how to make use of these trade agreements – how they can use the preferential tariffs when they’re exporting and steps they have to take into consideration while they market their products,” he added further.
He said the best approach to help e-commerce raise their exports is increasing the collaboration between all the stakeholders in the economy. “As a democracy, we have to take into account the interests of the producers, the consumers, the firms, the industry associations, the civil societies and everyone else. We have to take everyone together,” he added.