The commerce ministry is looking at ways to promote exports of non-IT sectors such as tourism, media and entertainment from special economic zones (SEZs). The ministry has asked Export Promotion Council for EOUs and SEZs (EPCES) to commission a study on the potential of these services.
“Today SEZs are dominated mainly by IT/ITeS related services. There is a huge potential in other services, the ministry wants to focus on them,” an official said. The government has also announced in the Budget to establish five special tourism zones.
The official said that these zones can be created as part of SEZs as the tourism sector holds huge employment potential.
SEZs are export hubs. Shipments from these regions account for about 20 per cent in the country’s total exports. They started loosing sheen after imposition of minimum alternate tax.
Due to this, several developers have surrendered their projects. However, the government is taking steps to revive investors’ interest in these zones. Exports from these zones grew by about 12 per cent year- on-year to Rs 5.24 lakh crore in 2016-17.
As on March 31, it has attracted investments worth Rs 4.23 lakh crore and has generated employment for 17.31 lakh people.
Highest number of SEZs are operational in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Maharashtra. Till May 1, the government approved as many as 421 zones. Out of this, 218 are operational.