'India exploring possibilities of FTAs with emerging markets'

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 1 2013, 00:17am hrs
FTAsThe Ministry feels that the review exercise will help in negotiating with some of the emerging markets.
The government today said it was exploring possibilities of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with new emerging nations and strengthen its presence in conventional markets such as the US and Europe.

"There is a need to review the FTAs with other nations as a measure to assess their impact on our own country's trade. The basic objective would be to analyse if there are any hurdles faced by the exporters and determine the inputs required to further the growth of trade," Minister of State for Commerce and Industry D Purandeswari said.

She was speaking at an award function for EOUs (export-oriented units) and SEZs (special economic zone) units organised by the Export Promotion Council.

The Ministry feels that the review exercise will help in negotiating with some of the emerging markets.

"This is only to emphasise the need to strengthen our presence in conventional markets such as the US and Europe, and to find for ourselves new markets in the difficult global economic scenario," Purandeswari said.

Besides, she said, the long-term vision of the ministry is to make efforts to make India a global player in the world trade by 2020. After slowdown in western markets, the government is exploring possibilities to engage more with emerging countries to boost the country's trade.

India has so far implemented free trade pacts with countries like Singapore, Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Asean. The country is negotiating similar pacts with several nations include Australia, Canada, European Union and New Zealand.

Talking about problems faced by Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Purandeswari said, "The ministry is aware of the challenges including imposition of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) on SEZs and ineffective functioning of the single-window clearance."

"...the policymakers need to be receptive and it is time for us to work together to ensure that there is a smooth and a conducive environment for our SEZs and EoUs so that they can do their best," she said.

So far, the government has formally approved 576 such zones and notified 392 units. Of the 173 operational zones, the maximum 39 are present in Andhra Pradesh, followed by Tamil Nadu (33), Karnatka (22), Maharashtra (20) and Gujarat (18).

Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce Rajeev Arora said: "We have tremendous scope within the SEZs which are in the pipeline (by converting the notified SEZs into functional ones)."

"We want to see that the non-serious players do not stay in the line as we are not interested in giving them many lifelines...," he said.

During 2012-13, exports from SEZs grew by about 31 per cent year-on-year to Rs 4.76 lakh crore. Shipments from these zones stood at Rs 3.65 lakh crore in the previous fiscal.

India's overall exports rose 12.97 per cent to USD 26.14 billion for the second straight month in August, while imports declined 0.68 per cent to USD 37.05 billion.