"The trade balance in April - October is USD 90.7 billion. You will remember I said last year that for the full year, the trade balance was USD 190 billion.
    
"This year we have just crossed USD 90 billion. That is in a period of seven months. We still have five months to go," he said at an interactive meeting organized by Federation of Indian Exports Organisation (FIEO).
    
Noting that the second half of a financial year always offers "better" economic conditions, he said, "Let us assume that the trade gap grows a little more. As long as we are able to contain the trade deficit to about USD 150 billion, may be even to USD 155 billion, I think we are still on a good wicket."
    
"The point is we are open to suggestions, we are open to ideas, we are open to hearing you, we are open to make any corrections. We are open to fine tune policies. But our goal must be the same. Our goal must be to maximize exports of this country and this is the best time to do. The exchange rate is quite attractive, competitive," he said.
    
The rupee closed at 62.87 versus the US dollar on Friday. The Finance Minister said there cannot be too much compression on imports and India would have to boost exports. Imports are the lifeline of several industries in India without which they would not flourish, he said.
    
"The key to containing the trade deficit is to increase exports. I sincerely hope that all of you (traders) put your best effort in the next 4 to 5 months and make sure that exports continue to grow," he said.
    
Exports grew by 13.5 percent in October, the fastest pace in two years. On introduction of Risk Management Systems for exports this year, which allow faster clearing of customs reducing "dwell time" of a cargo from several days to a few hours in a customs house, he said RMS would help most of the cargo.
    
"I am told that most of the 70 percent of the cargo go across the customs. (With introduction of RMS facility) 70 percent of cargo will go without any inspection and we will do a risk management of exporter, the cargo and customs station."     "Every minute cargo either coming into India or going out of India dwells in the customs station, adds to your cost. We are fully aware that this cost has to be minimized in order to keep a competitive edge to our exports", he said.

(Agencies)

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