Commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said her ministry is in talks with the Finance Ministry on Apple Inc's proposal seeking exemption from 30 per cent local sourcing norms on FDI in single brand retail.
The Minister, however, said she was not in favour of relaxing rules for Apple to sell refurbished second-hand phones in India.
Earlier, a government panel led by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion secretary suggested that Apple can be exempted from local sourcing rules as a pre-condition to set up single brand retail stores in India since the electronic products maker's proposal meets the definition of 'cutting edge technology'. Apple is learnt to have sought the waiver on the ground that it manufactures ‘cutting-edge technology’ items for which it is not possible to source as much from India.
But the Finance Ministry then turned down the government panel’s decision. Sitharaman said the discussions will be on whether there is a need for separate guidelines on local sourcing pertaining to the waiver on ‘cutting edge technology’ and what constitutes such high-end technology. However, she said these debates will not be stretched to unrelated segments such as fashion.
Turning to measures to boost start-ups, Sitharaman said her ministry has suggested to the Finance Ministry to raise tax holiday for start-ups from three years to seven years.
On other issues, she said Indian government agencies are likely to soon import pulses from Myanmar to address the shortages of the item in India.
Turning to World Trade Organisation (WTO) level talks to liberalise global trade, she said though the NDA government ensured that interests of poor farmers were protected at the WTO negotiations in Nairobi last year, India will soon strengthen its alliances with developing and poor nations to make sure that negotiations progress on all the remaining aspects of the Doha Development Agenda.
On Free Trade Agreements (FTA), she said the commerce ministry has asked the finance ministry to study the potential revenue losses arising from the possible elimination of duties as part of these FTAs. Expressing concern on the rising trade deficit with China, she said India has sought greater market access in China for goods including bulk drugs and services including information technology.
She also said the government was in talks with countries such as Venezuela, Sudan and Nigeria to address the problems relating to non-payment of dues by importers in those countries to Indian exporters, particularly in the pharma sector. Talks are also on with the RBI to work out a payment mechanism. Discussions are also on with Indonesia to supply non-basmati rice from India.