New trade policy aims at giving a big push to exports: Sharma

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, on Thursday, unveiled the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) for 2013-14, containing a slew of measures which include, among others, extension of zero duty Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) scheme to all sectors, extension of TUFs (Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme) benefits to EPCG, promotion of incremental exports, widening the market and product focus scheme and extension of interest subvention scheme till March 2014.

Majority of the measures are aimed at giving a big boost to the labour-intensive handicrafts, handloom, ready-made garments and man-made fabrics sectors which form a major chunk of the textiles exports which have been on the decline for the past many months. In addition, a new reformist policy for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) was announced.

Announcing these initiatives as part of the annual supplement to the FTP, Mr. Sharma said the measures were primarily aimed at giving a big push to exports which showed a decline of 1.76 per cent to $300.6 billion during 2012-13 and, as a consequence, pushed up the trade deficit to $190.91 billion.

Spelling out the details of the policy, Mr. Sharma said the EPCG scheme, which allowed exporters to import capital goods at zero duty, would stand extended beyond March 2013, and would be applicable to all sectors. “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,’’ he said.

The Commerce Minister also announced that export obligation (EO) in the case of domestic sourcing of capital goods under EPCG authorisations had been reduced by 10 per cent to promote domestic manufacturing of capital goods. To encourage manufacturing activity in Jammu and Kashmir, it was decided to reduce the specific EO to 25 per cent.

Mr. Sharma said at present 2 per cent interest subvention scheme was available to certain specific sectors such as handicrafts, handlooms carpets, ready-made garments, processed agricultural products, sports goods and toys. He said the scheme had been further widened to include 134 sub-sectors of engineering sector. Similarly, the new FTP widened the scope of utilisation of duty credit scrip. Similarly, he said Norway had been added under Focus Market Scheme, and Venezuela under Special Focus Market Scheme, taking the total number under these two initiatives to 125 and 50, respectively. “About 126 new products have been added under Focus Product Scheme from sectors such as engineering, electronics, chemicals, textiles and pharmaceuticals. About 47 new products have been added under Market-Linked Focus Product Scheme (MLFPS) with two new countries — Brunei and Yemen - added as new markets. The MLFPS has been extended from March 2013 to March 2014 for exports to the U.S. and the EU,” he added.

Mr. Sharma said exports of high-tech products would be incentivised. It would be notified separately by June 30, he added. The Incremental Export Incentivisation Scheme had been extended for 2013-14, he said. The government had also agreed to include additional countries under this scheme. Fiftythree countries of Latin America and Africa had been added with the objective to increase India’s share in these markets, he said. In addition, imports of cars/vehicles had been permitted through designated ports only which included ICD (Inland Container Depot), he said.

  • EPCG scheme extended beyond March 2013

  • Interest subvention scheme widened