The Department of Commerce will soon open 10 offices in Indian missions abroad to boost export promotion activities, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Friday.

Making this announcement at a review here of the sectoral export promotion plans prepared by various ministries, he said a conference of heads of Indian missions abroad has been scheduled in end-June to discuss trade promotion measures, according to a Commerce Ministry release.

The Minister stressed on branding of Indian products and export credit as important focus areas for export promotion, it said.

He also emphasised that efforts should be made for getting priority sector lending status for export credit and directed the ministry’s Logistics Division to work upon measures like bulk cargo transportation to reduce freight costs.

Prabhu suggested each ministry and department should set targets for increasing exports in 2018-2019 and directed that inter-ministerial meetings be held quarterly to resolve difficulties and assess the progress across sectors.

Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia noted that although exports have grown in the past year, a quantum jump is required in this direction.

She stressed that branding is a major issue cutting across all sectors and Brand Equity Foundation is formulating a proposal to support line ministries for branding export products.

Director General Foreign Trade Alok Chaturvedi said that the Department of Commerce is preparing a “100 Billion Additional Exports Strategy” which will be released shortly.

Indian merchandise exports in 2017-18 grew by 9.8 per cent over the previous year, while services exports were up by 17.8 per cent.

As per Commerce Ministry data on Friday, the country’s trade deficit in May at $14.62 billion, widened marginally over the excess of imports over exports at $13.84 billion recorded in the same month last year, on account of a higher import bill due to oil prices.