December 17, 2017

Foreign Trade Policy Review Offers Incentives to Boost Sagging Exports

06 December 2017, 03:40 | Silvia Roy

Foreign Trade Policy review- File

Foreign Trade Policy review- File

On Tuesday, commerce minister Suresh Prabhu announced new measures to boost the country's sagging exports as part of a mid-term review of the existing 2015-2020 trade policy.

The revised FTP focuses on exploring new markets and products, as well as increasing the country's share in traditional markets, leveraging the benefits of GST, increasing ease of trading across borders and increasing farmers' income through a focused policy for agricultural exports.

This would translate into additional relief of Rs 8,450 crore for these category of exporters.

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The review was to be announced on July 1 this year, along with the implementation of GST. For the first seven months of the current fiscal, exports have grown 9.62% over the same period previous year.

The incentives included a 2% increase in the rates of the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) and Services Export from India Scheme (SEIS). Assuring the exporters that the Government will sort out these issues together with exporters, Prabhu said, "No new legislation can be made ideal in one go".

To facilitate the ease of foreign trade, the government also allowed duty-free imports for export on self-certification and raised validity for duty credit scrips to 24 months.

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Later, fielding queries on refunds of the exporters, Prabhu said: "We are working very closely with the finance ministry".

"No new legislation can be made flawless in one go. It will greatly help in expediting export of a number of important products such as engineering, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, textiles and high-tech products", said FICCI secretary general Sanjaya Baru in a statement. Exporters can import necessary inputs under duty-free scheme through self declaration instead of having to secure ratification from the Norms Committee that the raw materials will indeed be used in the manufacture of export items. We work for the exporters, take up their causes.

Pratik Jain, leader- indirect tax, PwC India, said the FTP review did not have "big bang announcements", as expected but increase in MEIS and SEIS by 2% increased financial support to employment generating sectors. "The Government will continuously revisit concerns of the exporters, identify challenges and addressed them as and when they arise", he said.

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"While exporters will be happy with the direction, they would look forward to some quick and long term solution to working capital blockage with respect to input GST. It requires continuous monitoring of the situation on the ground and flexibility in approach, which GST council has shown in last few months". He said the government has set up a "state-of-the-art" trade analytics division set up in DGFT for data based policy actions, which will improve policy making process and making it a dynamic and evidence driven. These comprise additional annual incentive of Rs 749 crore for leather sector, Rs 921 crore for handmade carpets of silk, handloom, coir and jute products, Rs 1,354 crore for agriculture products, Rs 759 crore for marine products, Rs 369 crore for telecom and electronic components, and Rs 193 crore for medical equipment. "While incentivising the MSME and labour-intensive sector, the government did not ignore agriculture and defence and a large proportion of incentive has been allocated to promote exports in this sector as well", he said.

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