There are still grey areas that we need to address

Written by Ronojoy Banerjee | Ronojoy Banerjee | Updated: Aug 24 2010, 10:36am hrs
Commerce minister Anand Sharma had to walk a tightrope on Monday while announcing the foreign trade policy. While he doled out incentives to the traditional labour intensive sectors like handicrafts and textiles he made it amply clear that many of the steps taken in the wake of the global recession could well be withdrawn next year. In an interview to FEs Ronojoy Banerjee he spoke about the broad issues in exports and ways to address the huge gap in balance of trade with China. Excerpts:

We are seeing a turnaround in exports for sometime now yet you mentioned in todays FTP announcement that the Indian exporters were not out of trouble yet. Where do you see the problem

I am cautiously optimistic. There are still grey areas that we need to address like the engineering sector, textiles, handicrafts and handlooms. These are the sectors where the growth is not strong. These sectors are very important because they employ a large number of people. Healthy growth in these sectors have not returned yet which we have to look into through the appropriate measures.

We understand that the commerce ministry worked with some budgetary constraints this time round and you mentioned that there were indeed some scarcity in resources. Do we expect a rollback in some of the schemes that you announced today

The DEPB Scheme extension is for the last time. And with respect to EPCG, I said it was a special dispensation. Remember that the scheme was only introduced last year in the wake of the economic recession. The scheme was to end on March 31, 2011 and we have extended it to March 31, 2012. So it was introduced at a special crisis situation. The time extension is a huge support system. The same is with the Status Holder Incentive Scheme. It was to end in March 2011 but it has been extended. I am sure the world situation in 2012 will be a lot different from what it is in 2011. There is a stability and consolidation in the policy announcement. Instead of the policy ending abruptly it has been extended.

The approximate value of todays announcements were Rs 1,050 crore. Have you set aside a quantum of money that could be doled out at a later date the way we saw you did last year

This is over and above what they are getting. There will be sectoral reviews. I hope to have the first one started in mid-November which would end by December 2011.After that we will take a call.