An association of exporters on Saturday appealed to the West Bengal government to consider the export-import operations as essential services as these activities are part of the global supply chain.

Their request came after the state government announced that stricter lockdown norms will be implemented from Sunday till May 30 to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The export-import activities fall under the purview of the lockdown, an official of the traders’ body said.

Jute and tea sectors have been allowed to operate with 30 per cent and 50 per cent workforce respectively during the next 15-day period, he said, adding that borders were sealed and trading activities were not permitted during the last year’s lockdown.

Federation of Indian Exporters’ Organisations wrote to West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, seeking his intervention in the matter.

“We have written to the West Bengal chief secretary, seeking permission to continue our operation with 50 per cent manpower during the lockdown period, in line with other states that had considered exports as essential services,” FIEO official told PTI.

The industry body said in a letter to the government that the exporting units in the state employ lakhs of workers and have strict timelines to execute their orders.

“Else, it may attract heavy penalties, including shifting of such orders to other competing countries.

“It is, therefore, necessary that the EXIM (export- import) sector should be covered in the list of essential services so that the entire chain is able to operate or function with at least a minimum of 50 per cent staff strength during lockdowns,” FIEO said in the letter.

It also stated that states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra had allowed the manufacturing units to function during the lockdown period, considering these entities as export units under the provision of “essential services” and “continuous process industries”.

Source: Livemint