Faced with declining exports, the government on Thursday announced a slew of measures including extension of the popular EPCG scheme to all sectors and sops for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to boost shipments.
The initiatives announced by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma as part of the annual supplement to the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) are aimed at pushing exports which declined by 1.76 per cent to USD 300.6 billion during 2012—13 and pushed up the trade deficit to USD 190.91 billion.
The Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) scheme, which allows exporters to import capital goods at zero duty, would be extended beyond March 2013 and would be applicable to all sectors, Sharma said.
“We have decided not only to extend the zero duty EPCG scheme beyond March 2013, but also merge it with 3 per cent EPCG scheme. Now, the zero duty EPCG benefit will be available to all sectors,” the Minister said.
As regards the SEZ scheme, Mr. Sharma said, the minimum land area requirement for setting up such zones has been reduced to half and there would be no ceiling for IT and ITeS SEZs.
“We have taken note of the fact that there are acute difficulties in aggregating large tracks of uncultivable land which is vacant and contiguous and we have decided to reduce the minimum land area requirement by half for different categories of SEZs.
“...there would be no minimum land requirement for setting up IT/ITeS SEZs and only minimum built up area criteria would be needed to be met by SEZ developer,” the Minister said.
On demands of exit policy for the SEZs, Mr. Sharma said it has been decided to allow transfer of ownership and sale of SEZs units.
“I hope that the measures which we have announced today will go a long way in providing much needed support for exports,” the Minister added.