20 sectors identified for boosting manufacturing and export: Piyush Goyal

The central government has identified 20 sectors where India can meet domestic demand as well as become a ‘global factory of the world’ by pushing out more exports and reining in costly imports, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a webinar organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci), Goyal underscored the government’s focus on sectors like furniture to be manufactured indigenously, thereby cutting back on imports. Despite having skilled carpenters and artisans, the country continues to import furniture.

Earlier, food processing, iron and steel, electronics, industrial machinery, furniture, automobile parts, and leather and footwear were among the sectors identified for import substitution and increasing exports.

He added that India will have to engage with the world in areas where the country has a competitive edge. The minister said the industry should take advantage of the changing social and industrial landscape in a post-Covid era, by leveraging emerging fields like distance learning and traditional branches like yoga and ayurveda.

Goyal also exhorted the industry to ramp up the use of technological tools such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotics. “Rapid technological innovation and adoption will not lead to job losses in the aggregate. There may be a re-scaling or retooling required,” said Goyal. The minister said India needs to build up on home-grown skills. Referring to the data from Ficci, he said by 2030, one out of four graduates globally will be coming out of the Indian higher education system.

According to official sources, the government has been readying to place tighter restrictions on the import of 371 items — ranging from toys and plastic goods to sports gear and furniture — which are worth $127 billion. “A large chunk of these originate in China and for those goods, we will pursue import substitution,” a senior official said.

Electronics, drugs, apparel, and consumer durables from China are also on the list. This will be done through the establishment of product standards, incentives for domestic manufacturing, and discussions with business stakeholders to source from a broader choice of nations.