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India's new trade policy merges all export schemes into two

Wed, Apr 01, 2015, 09:03 PM
New Delhi, April 1 : With Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" initiative in the backdrop and a target of raising India's exports to $900 billion by 2020, a new five-year Foreign Trade Policy was unveiled Wednesday that recasts all external commerce programmes into two schemes.

"The new five year Foreign Trade Policy, 2015-20 provides a framework for increasing exports of goods and services, as well as generation of employment and increasing value addition in the country, in keeping with the “Make in India” vision of the prime minister," Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

"The focus of the new policy is to support both the manufacturing and services sectors, with a special emphasis on improving the ease of doing business," she said during the unveiling of the new policy at the Vigyan Bhavan conference complex here.

In its blueprint for enhancing exports, she said, the government has now merged all the earlier export promotion projects under two plans - the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) and the Served from India scheme (SFIS) for services exporters.

As part of this initiative, the import duty exemption scrips valued at 10 percent of the foreign exchange earned, which are given to service exporters as an incentive, have now been made "tradeable" and can be used for service tax, customs and excise duty payments.

"There is no conditionality in any of the scrips issued under these two schemes," Sitharaman said, adding: As a measure to boost special economic zones, units within them will also now be able to avail the benefit of the two merged schemes.

The new policy has come at a time when India's merchandise exports continue to log a decent growth, having expanded by just 0.88 percent in the first 11 months of the current fiscal.

Declining for the straight third month, India's exports fell by over 15 percent to $21.54 billion in February, even as the trade deficit narrowed to $6.85 billion on the back of declining international crude oil prices.

The commerce minister unveils the country's Foreign Trade Policy for five years and a review is conducted annually. The previous policy was for 2009-2014, but neither was a new policy announced in 2014, nor a review conducted.

By implementing the new policy, India's share in world trade is expected to double from the present level of three percent by 2020.
Agency: IANS

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