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‘Import barriers will not be perpetual’

Any tariff protection to promote local manufacturing in India will come with an in-built sunset clause, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said on Friday, asserting that the country’s self-reliance mission must not be equated to it becoming a ‘protectionist’ and closed economy.

The government is set to extend the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for manufacturing pharmaceuticals, medical devices and electronics announced under the AtmaNirbhar Bharat package to six more sectors, he said.

“We will pursue self-reliance; we will want to give our domestic entrepreneurs the best situations to go forward. We will, while attracting FDI, also repose our faith and trust in those who have already invested in India. We want to recognise them by giving them much better logistics, infrastructure and more flexibility in the use of land and labour,” he said.

Explaining the rationale for the PLI schemes that, he said, will soon become valid for ‘nine to 10’ sectors from four at present, Mr. Kumar said this is meant to incentivise investors already in the country to put up globally comparable capacities in scale and competitiveness.

He emphasised that India’s efforts towards self-reliance were not dissimilar to what other nations are doing to insulate themselves from global supply chain shocks and revive the economy.

‘In global context’

“But it will be done in a global context. It will be done with India remaining open and trying to regain its share in global and regional production chains, it will be done with respect to rule-bound multilateral trading orders. It will not imply in any sense any form of isolation, closed economy or protectionism,” he said.

Mr. Kumar added that the country will do its best to increase the share of trade in its gross domestic product (GDP).

“If there is any support given to domestic enterprises, it will all be targeted towards creating globally competitive capacities and any support that we give them through tariffs would have an in-built sunset clause. I wanted to emphasise India’s commitment to a global economy with open order,” Mr. Kumar said in an address to the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The government recently barred the import of several products, ranging from split air-conditioners to certain types of TVs while imposing higher import duties or curbs on other items.