In 2023–24, the Indian economy is expected to grow at 6%–6.8%—the fastest among major economies worldwide. India’s overall exports (merchandise and services) is estimated to have touched $770 billion in FY 2022-23, with merchandise exports having grown to $447 billion, a 6% year-on-year increase. This makes the achievement of $2 trillion in overall exports as targeted by the Government of India and the estimated $200–300 billion in e-commerce exports by 2030 a plausible eventuality. The new Foreign Trade Policy (FTP), conceived to provide a fillip to the country’s e-commerce exports, is geared towards making India an exports powerhouse over the coming years.

New pathways for going global

Globalisation and adoption of technology had already changed the dynamics of international trade. The rise of cross-border e-commerce and a change in consumer shopping habits have opened up unprecedented vistas for small businesses and MSMEs in India to build international brands and deliver high-quality ‘Made in India’ products to customers in all parts of the world. Over the next few years, the Government of India intends to increase MSMEs’ share in exports to 60%. To achieve this, it is critical to enable our MSMEs, which form the backbone of our economy, to be integrated with the global e-commerce value chain and become exporters.

The Government also wants to shift the nucleus of India’s exports story to its districts. Working towards this, we have decentralized exports promotion activities to boost local production and launched the Districts as Export Hubs (DEH) initiative. Our District Export Promotion Councils will work closely with industry associations, trader bodies, private companies, global e-commerce platforms, and other relevant stakeholders to promote district-led exports growth. This way, India’s export growth story will not be restricted to a few large cities, but will be equitably distributed across regions.

Increased allocation for exports-boosting schemes

To help promote exports amid the global economic slowdown, the Union Budget 2023 increased allocation for exports-boosting schemes such as Refund of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) by 10% to Rs 15,069 crore in 2023–24 from Rs 13,699 crore in 2022–23. It has also increased funds under the Market Access Initiative (MAI) Scheme by 25%. Measures to increase credit flow of Rs 9,000 crore to MSMEs were introduced, along with a decrease in compliance burden, improvement in ease of doing business, and support for technology adoption.

Cognizant of the significant opportunities that lie ahead of us, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) is continuously working to help Indian exporters transition seamlessly into the e-commerce exports market. India has so far signed 13 free trade agreements (FTAs) and six preferential pacts with its trading partners to enable better access to international markets.

E-commerce: An enabler for small businesses and startups

While the Government strives to smoothen the pathway for exporters, e-commerce platforms are enabling Indian MSMEs and startups to expand their businesses globally. Global e-commerce platforms operating in India provide our exporters access to their international marketplaces across 200 countries and territories. E-commerce exports can be a great economic growth enabler in India and the convergence of the Government’s efforts, opportunities created by Indian and international e-commerce companies, and increasing demand for ‘Made in India’ products globally can make this a reality. This will be in line with not only the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of a $5 trillion economy, but also a testimony to the enormous potential of India’s MSMEs and small entrepreneurs.