New Delhi, Apr 18 (ANI): In a bid to revive India’s exports, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma today extended several benefits to spur exports and to encourage domestic manufacturing to reduce dependence on imports.
Releasing the annual supplement to the government’s foreign trade policy, Sharma also extended the two percent Interest Subvention Scheme, which was available only to handlooms, handicrafts, carpets and SMEs till March 31 2012, to March 31 2013.
It is also being extended to labour intensive sectors, namely, toys, sports goods, processed agricultural products and ready-made garments, in addition to four sectors benefiting from the scheme earlier.
Besides other schemes, Sharma also announced incentives for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to encourage exports.
The minimum area requirement for SEZs has also been reduced to fulfill the contiguity norms. For multi-product SEZs, the minimum area required now is 500 hectares from 1,000 hectares. For sector specific SEZs, the minimum area required now is 50 hectares from 100 hectares while for IT SEZs no minimum land requirement will be there.
On the issues relating to vacancy of land, while the existing policy allows for parcels of land with pre-existing structures not in commercial use to be considered as vacant land for the purpose of notifying an SEZ, it has now been decided that additions to such pre-existing structures and activities being undertaken after notification would be eligible for duty benefits similar to any other activity in the SEZ.
Sharma also said that Norway and Venezuela has been added to Focused Market Scheme while engineering, pharma and textiles have been added under Focused Product Scheme.
“Norway has been added under focus market scheme and Venezuela has been added under special focus market scheme. The total number of countries under Focus Market Scheme and Special Focus Market Scheme becomes 125 and 50 respectively,” he added.
Further asserting that it was a matter of concern that trade deficit has increased from 183.4 billion US Dollars last year to 190.91 billion US Dollars, Sharma said: “If we look at the direction of Indian exports, we are able to discern a shifting trend as Indian exports to Asia, Africa and Latin America during 2012-13 touched USD 195.27 billion, accounting for 65 percent of our total export basket.”
“This is indeed a development with significant import as South-South trade is assuming a new dynamics. Apart from this, value added exports have got a centrality in our export basket as engineering exports accounted for USD 57 billion, textiles accounted for USD 26 billion and pharmaceuticals at USD15 billion,” he added.
He said trade deficit impacts the Current Account Deficit (CAD) and exports are viewed as valuable source of foreign exchange, which helps in stabilizing the current account deficit situation.
He further said the government has aggressively pursued a policy of trade liberalisation in the last four years.
“In the last four years, we have aggressively pursued a policy of trade liberalization and engaged with all dynamic parts of the world. We have concluded comprehensive economic partnership agreement with ASEAN after signing of Services and Investment at the Commemorative Summit last year. Similar agreements had already been finalized with Korea, Japan and Malaysia,” he said.
” I have just returned from Brussels and I am happy to share with you that the negotiations for the India-EU BTIA are progressing well and both sides have given a clear mandate to negotiators for concluding a balanced and fair agreement at the earliest. I am confident that over the next couple of months, we should see intensification of this process and hope that we will be able to arrive at a broad understanding soon,” he added. (ANI)