covid impact on exports: A longer lockdown may create problems for exporters: FIEO

NEW DELHI: Exporters body FIEO on Friday cautioned the government that if the current lockdown will continue for long, it may create problems for exporters.

Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President Sharad Kumar Saraf said that several countries such as Bangladesh, Dubai and the UK have issued solutions and guidelines for lifting the lockdown, and the federation has shared those suggestions with several states in India.

“More than one month have passed since the complete lockdown was imposed and it is creating difficulty for labours and industry. If it will be continued for long, it may create problems for exporters,” Saraf told PTI.

After a three week period of the lockdown that ended on April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the countrywide lockdown for 19 additional days till May 3 to contain the spread of the pandemic.

“…in a calibrated and calculated manner, we need to start economic activities. It is my humble appeal to allow the industry to start in different places so that economy start moving,” he said adding “we need to create a balance between life and livelihood”.

Further, he added that clarifications issued by the Home Ministry on April 15 guidelines for partial resumption of manufacturing units are welcome but those should percolate down.

“This has been our experience that while the home secretary gives out the guidelines and clarifications, all the chief secretaries of states do not implement it in full letter and spirit and the guidelines do not percolate down upto the ground level,” Saraf said.

He also said that large areas should not be declared as red zones if only few COVID cases have been found.

“For example, Thane has been declared as red zone, just because few cases have been found in few villages. Instead of declaring whole district as red zone, only those areas where the COVID cases have been found should be declared as containment area and in rest of the areas, industry may be allowed to resume work,” he added.

India’s first case was reported on January 30 and from March 25, the country was put under a 21-day complete lockdown.

Ludhiana-based Hand Tools Association President Subhash Chander Ralhan said that the government should allow factories and shops to open otherwise it will be “very” difficult for exporters to revive the work if lockdown continues for long.

The country’s merchandise exports plunged by a record 34.57 per cent in March.

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