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Indian firms to boost trade links through new Commonwealth association

30 June 2016

Small and medium enterprises in India stand to gain from enhanced trade links with emerging markets across the globe, through a new Commonwealth business association launched today in New Delhi.

India’s Commonwealth SME Association was launched as a partnership between the Federation of Indian Small and Medium Enterprises and the Commonwealth Secretariat at a two-day trade symposium in the capital.

The new business body will help firms in India to identify suppliers in least developed countries in Asia and Africa, among other regions, to provide goods and materials for lead export products - from clothing apparel to electronics.

The trade symposium from 29-30 June 2016 was attended by almost 100 participants, including senior representatives of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, industry associations and exporters and importers from India as well as South Asian and African countries. Visits were organised to local factories and delegates participated in bilateral business meetings with the aim of inking the first of many commercial deals.

Dr Rashmi Banga, Head of Trade Competitiveness at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “This new association will provide a sustainable buyer-seller platform for Indian firms to connect to enterprises in source countries and emerging markets and help to forge trading links for businesses in Commonwealth countries.

“By boosting imports and exports with the Indian economy, this initiative seeks to strengthen global value chains for India’s lead products and will help to contribute to a harmonisation of standards internationally.”

India’s global exports have increased at a steady pace since 2000, rising from US$42 billion to US$264 billion by 2015. However, imports have grown faster than exports from US$53 billion in 2000 to USD 391 billion in 2015.

In April 2015, India announced its new five-year Foreign Trade Policy with the objective of raising India’s participation in world trade.

Addressing the symposium, India’s Commerce Secretary, Rita Teaotia, said she hoped Indian firms could increase exports by linking up with foreign businesses and customers, for example by embracing online commerce.

“E-commerce will increasingly become a significant route to create opportunities for SMEs to have direct access to the world markets and to get the best value for their products,” she said.

The trade symposium was organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat in partnership with the Federation of Indian Small and Medium Enterprises, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Confederation of Indian Industry, the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, the Centre for WTO Studies, Government and Business Services Africa and the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation.

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