Top-notch infra, access to West Asia & Africa — why Indian exporters want ‘India Mart’ in Dubai – ThePrint

New Delhi: Indian exporters, especially those dealing in leather and engineering goods, are keen on a potential trade market in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) dedicated to Indian goods — an idea pitched by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal last week — as it can provide market access to the larger Gulf region and Africa, and reduce cost of supply chains.
Such a market will enable exporters to send over a larger volume of Indian goods to meet the high demand for them in these countries as warehousing and packaging will be more affordable.
Goyal had first mentioned an ‘India Mart’ last Friday at the India-UAE Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks, during which he said that the talks are at an “advanced stage”.
“We’re working to see whether we can have a large ‘India Mart’ in Dubai where a huge number of stores can come up to display Indian products. A huge amount of warehousing can be picked up at affordable prices here and it can become a base to spread our wings all across the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world,” he had further said.
Goyal has since interacted with industry leaders and Export Promotion Council heads along with UAE-owned logistics firm DP World, and suggested that such a market could be set up in Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone.
“We are looking for this to become a $10 billion opportunity for India and also showcase Brand India on the global stage,” Goyal had said.
An India Mart would be crucial to helping Indian goods penetrate African markets, said Ajay Sahai, director general and CEO of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), a trade promotion body under the commerce ministry. 
“An India Mart would help India cater to not just the UAE region but more so, Africa. In fact, Dubai is the financial root to Africa because in most cases, payments for exports to Africa are done via Dubai,” Sahai told ThePrint.
It could also help India compete with Chinese goods, he said. Dubai is already home to ‘Dragon Mart’ — the world’s largest Chinese mall and trading hub for Chinese products outside Mainland China — which opened in December 2007.
If the two countries ink an economic agreement, it is expected to increase bilateral trade in goods to $100 billion, and to $15 billion in services within five years, according to the commerce ministry. 
India is already on track to touch $400 billion in merchandise exports by the end of this fiscal, it added.
Also Read: Why Indian exports are doing well in 2nd Covid wave and how new restrictions can hurt them
Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone is attractive to India’s exporters not only because it is a tax-free zone but also because of the high standard of infrastructure and logistics it offers.
“Infrastructure at Jebel Ali Free Zone is top-notch. The US is the major market for India’s  engineering goods and UAE has a substantial share but a mart like this could improve that share,” Sumit Goyal, head of operations at Kolkata-based engineering goods firm Patton International, told ThePrint. 
Meanwhile, India’s leather exporters are keen on how the mart could serve as a “one-stop shop” for both retail and wholesale goods and whether there are design services (designing of products) to be gained.
“There is scattered production throughout India for leather goods. The major production centers are Chennai, Kanpur, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, but this could become a one-stop shop for both retail and wholesale,” R.K. Selvam, executive director of the Council of Leather Exports, told ThePrint.
“Dubai is one of the world’s top fashion capitals, a mart like this could offer design inputs and upscale India’s leather products,” he added.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)
Also Read: Why Indian textile, leather exporters want restoration of preferential trade terms with US
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