India’s Market Access Initiatives Scheme Offers Airfare Support for Start-ups and New Exporters

Posted by Written by Naina Bhardwaj Reading Time: 4 minutes

By revamping the Market Access Initiatives (MAI) Scheme and offering attractive incentives to start-ups and new exporters, the government aims to rejuvenate India’s export sector and achieve substantial growth.

In response to the decline in India’s exports, the government has taken proactive measures to invigorate the export sector.

Efforts to promote exports include attractive incentives for start-ups and new exporters, coupled with easier compliance norms for existing exporters. For example, the Market Access Initiatives (MAI) Scheme is now revamped to offer airfare reimbursement for new exporters and start-ups participating in overseas events. This initiative aims to motivate emerging export players from India to enter the global market and promote their products or services internationally. Unlike before, the MAI scheme’s incentives will be accessible to entities with an annual turnover of INR 5 million (equivalent to approximately US$61,057) in the domestic market.

Existing Indian exporters also stand to benefit, as the government has raised the ceiling for airfare reimbursement under the MAI Scheme by 20 percent. This increase provides established exporters with higher financial support when participating in international events, thereby facilitating their promotional efforts abroad.

Moreover, the enhanced airfare reimbursements will apply when exporters host foreign buyers in reverse buyer-seller meets within India. This strategic move encourages start-ups to engage in exports, supporting the government’s ambitious target of achieving US$1 trillion in exports by 2030.

The urgency of these actions is underlined by a significant year-on-year contraction of 22 percent in India’s goods exports, reaching US$32.97 billion in June, marking the largest decline in three years.

Government officials emphasize the importance of these financial incentives in facilitating the organization of mega trade fairs and attracting foreign companies to exhibit in India. The government plans to host large-scale trade fairs focusing on food, textiles, and auto components, with a target of achieving a 12 percent growth in goods exports by 2030. Successful global trade events like Messe Frankfurt, Gulf Food, and Canton Fair serve as inspirations for these endeavors.

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Everything you need to know about the Market Access Initiatives Scheme

What is the Market Access Initiatives (MAI) Scheme?

The Indian government has implemented the MAI Scheme as an Export Promotion Scheme with the aim of promoting and sustaining the growth of India’s exports. It concentrates on particular products and target countries, which are identified through comprehensive market studies and surveys.

How the MAI Scheme works?

The scheme’s primary goal is to facilitate export growth by enabling entities to enter new markets or enhance their presence in existing markets. To accomplish this, the scheme provides predetermined levels of assistance for each eligible activity. By directing attention to key products and specific markets, the MAI Scheme serves as a catalyst for driving India’s export expansion in a sustainable and strategic manner.

What kind of activities does the MAI Scheme cover?

The MAI Scheme covers a wide range of export promotion activities, including:

  • Market research
  • Participation in trade fairs and exhibitions
  • Branding and publicity
  • Marketing projects abroad
  • Capacity building
  • Support for statutory compliances
  • Studies
  • Project development
  • Developing foreign trade facilitation web portals
  • Support for cottage and handicrafts units

Who is eligible to receive assistance under the MAI Scheme?

Various entities are eligible to receive financial assistance under the MAI Scheme, including:

  • Export promotion organizations
  • Trade promotion organizations
  • National level institutions
  • Research institutions
  • Universities
  • Laboratories
  • Individual exporters
  • Start-ups

Who administers the MAI Scheme?

The MAI Scheme is administered by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, through the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

Who is eligible for financial assistance under the MAI Scheme?

Specific public sector agencies, private organizations, institutions, and exporters are eligible for financial support under the MAI Scheme, including:

  • Departments of central government and organizations of central/state governments
  • Indian missions abroad
  • Export promotion councils
  • Registered trade promotion organizations
  • Commodity boards
  • Apex trade bodies recognized under the foreign trade policy of the government of India
  • Recognized industrial and artisan clusters
  • Individual exporters (for statutory compliance, etc.)
  • National level institutions (Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), National Institute of Design (NID), etc.)

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