Mumbai: Exports in all probability will miss the target and settle at USD 300 billion in 2012-13 because of slowdown in demand in traditional markets, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said here on Wednesday.
The government has set an export target of USD 360 billion for the current financial year.
"Exports have not grown as we were hoping because of the contraction in global trade, the continuing turbulence in the eurozone area and the fall in demand in some of the traditional destinations.
"We still hope, the numbers of February and March will remain strongly positive. We will be happy if we mange to reach closer to USD 300 billion this fiscal," Sharma said here.
Notably, after eight months of contraction, outward shipments rose a tad in January at 0.82 percent to USD 25.58 billion, but trade deficit continued to widen to around USD 20 billion, the second highest figure ever in a month, as imports rose 6.12 percent to USD 45.5 billion in the month.
However, during the April-January period, overseas shipments shrank by 4.86 percent to USD 239.6 billion.
Sharma was addressing students of St Xavier's College here at a CII-organised event.
On FDI in retail, Sharma said the "government will fast track new proposals as we get," adding that he had cleared three foreign direct investment proposals on single brand retail last week.
He further said Sainsbury, Carrefour and Tesco have also applied for permission to set up sourcing centres in the country.
On the proposed Jet Airways-Etihad deal, Sharma said, the government has already assured the Gulf carrier of the safety of its investments. "We have assured Etihad that India is a safe and profitable investment destination."
The comments have come in the backdrop of reports that the UAE carrier had sought firm assurances from the government on its investment.
On the widening trade deficit, Sharma said the country needs to look at ways to reduce its imports as a lot of foreign exchange is lost.
It can be noted that the widening trade gap has been blamed as one of the reasons for the large current account deficit which rose to a record high of 5.4 percent of GDP in the July-September quarter. The biggest trade gap of USD 21 billion was recorded in October last year.
Sharma said the country needs more foreign investments to promote manufacturing and trade.
"The UAE is investing USD 2 billion for infrastructure development projects and Britain is also keen to join hands with us. It is a significant development for us in attracting foreign investment," he said.
He said job creation was a major challenge that the country today faced. "Over 400 million jobs need to be created in the next 15 years. The New Manufacturing Policy will help in increasing the share of manufacturing to 25-26 percent of GDP from the current 16 percent. This will create millions of jobs in the next decade," he said.
On relations with Pakistan and China, he said, it is complex, which should be resolved through diplomatic channels for a better and safer future.
Moreover, global leadership and development can be achieved only through global cooperation, he added.