Foreign trade policy to focus on manufacturing led export growth, SEZs: Nirmala Sitharaman

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 10 2014, 17:05pm hrs
FTPThe policy is expected to be announced by the end of this month.
The new foreign trade policy (FTP) will focus on ways to boost manufacturing sector and exports besides addressing the SEZ issues, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

"The refreshing thing about this time's policy will be to understand where our strength lies, what are the challenges available. Manufacturing will be at the core of it...SEZ would also figure in the FTP," Sitharaman said in an interview to PTI.

She said the FTP till now has been only a compilation of schemes to boost exports and regulate imports.

The minister said the FTP for 2014-19 would also mention about the schemes and incentives besides ensuring that the announcements are WTO compliant and "making sure that international obligation are not violated".

The policy is expected to be announced by the end of this month.

"We have been reviewing SEZs not just for pushing exports but also because many of them who have already come and played into the SEZ are facing a lot of difficulties," she said.

The government is looking at the demands of SEZ developers and units on minimum alternative tax (MAT) and dividend distribution tax (DDT), she added.

Industry is time and again demanding roll back of MAT and DDT, saying imposition of the duty has adversely impacted the growth of these zones.

"The Finance Minister was very seized of the matter. I am sure something would come out of it. Because it is going to hurt SEZs. The way in which we are looking at in the commerce (ministry), I will certainly be requesting the Finance Minister to sooner rather than later definitely look at the matter. They have been a very big deterrent for the SEZs," she said.

Besides, the commerce ministry is also reviewing issues related to infrastructure for non-core uses of the SEZs, non-export component like the residential and healthcare accommodation, use of land within the SEZ for non-core purposes.

Indian manufacturers are also asking for similar facilities which SEZs are enjoying.

"Indian manufacturers are saying that they are becoming competent, why can't they have such infrastructure, which is a legitimate question. Indian manufacturers also should have a foot into the SEZ itself. Should they Should they not Even that is also being contemplated," the minister said.

India's exports in the last three years have been hovering around USD 300 billion. India's exports in 2013-14 fell short of the USD 325 billion target and managed to reach USD 312.35 billion. The country's exports stood at USD 300.4 billion in 2012-13 and USD 307 billion in 2011-12.