News Excerpt
Recently, NITI Aayog in partnership with the Institute of Competitiveness has released the first Export Preparedness Index (EPI) that is EPI 2020 to examine export preparedness and performance of Indian states.

About Index
•    EPI intends to identify challenges and opportunities; enhance the effectiveness of government policies; and encourage a facilitative regulatory framework.
•    The structure of the EPI includes 4 pillars –
1)    Policy: A comprehensive trade policy provides a strategic direction for exports and imports.
2)    Business Ecosystem: An efficient business ecosystem can help states attract investments and create an enabling infrastructure for individuals to initiate start-ups.
3)    Export Ecosystem: This pillar aims to assess the business environment, which is specific to exports.
4)    Export Performance: This is the only output-based pillar and examines the reach of export footprints of States and Union Territories.
•    It also has 11 sub-pillars –Export Promotion Policy; Institutional Framework; Business Environment; Infrastructure; Transport Connectivity; Access to Finance; Export Infrastructure; Trade Support; R&D Infrastructure; Export Diversification; and Growth Orientation.
•    The Export Preparedness Index is a data-driven effort to identify the core areas crucial for export promotion at the sub-national level.
•    All the states and union territories have been assessed on crucial parameters that are critical for any typical economic unit to achieve sustainable export growth.
•    The Index would be a helpful guide for the state governments to benchmark regional performance with respect to export promotion and thus deliver key policy insights on how to improve and enhance the same.

Highlights of Report
    Overall, most of the Coastal States are the best performers. Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu occupy the top three ranks, respectively. Six of eight coastal states feature in the top ten rankings, indicating the presence of strong enabling and facilitating factors to promote exports.
    In the landlocked states, Rajasthan has performed the best, followed by Telangana and Haryana. Among the Himalayan states, Uttarakhand is the highest, followed by Tripura and Himachal Pradesh. Across the Union Territories, Delhi has performed the best, followed by Goa and Chandigarh.
    EPI has shown that most Indian states performed well on average across the sub-pillars of Exports Diversification, Transport Connectivity and Infrastructure. The average score of Indian states in these three sub-pillars was above 50%.
    It also given the low standard deviation in Export Diversification and Transport Connectivity, the averages are not skewed to the higher side by a few over-achievers.
    According to the report, the export orientation and preparedness are not just restricted to prosperous states. Even emerging states can undertake dynamic export policy measures, have functioning promotional councils, and synchronize with national logistical plans to grow their exports.
    Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are two landlocked states that had initiated several measures to promote exports. Other states facing similar socio-economic challenges can look at the measures taken by Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and try to implement them to grow their exports.

Challenges
Based on the finding of the report, export promotion in India faces three fundamental challenges:
    Intra- and inter-regional disparities in export infrastructure;
    Poor trade support and growth orientation among states; and
    Poor R&D infrastructure to promote complex and unique exports.

Way Forward
There is a need to emphasize on key strategies to address these challenges:
    A joint development of export infrastructure;
    Strengthening industry-academia linkages; and
    Creating state-level engagements for economic diplomacy.
These strategies could be supported by revamped designs and standards for local products and by harnessing the innovating tendencies to provide new use cases for such products, with adequate support from the Centre. To achieve the target of making India a developed economy by focusing on ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’, there is a need to increase exports from all the states and union territories. The EPI provides invaluable insights on how states can attain this goal.