| Commerce and industry minister Arun Jaitley at a seminar organised by Ficci in New Delhi on Tuesday. (AFP)
New Delhi, April 1: Commerce and industry minister Arun Jaitley today said that the government would “explore the possibility” of extending SEZ benefits to select export houses with a turnover of more than Rs 25 crore.
Some units such as those in the pharmaceutical sector with major contribution to exports had stated that it was not possible for them to re-locate to the SEZs. They had urged the government to treat them as virtual SEZs so that they could become more competitive in the international market.
Jaitley agreed that SEZs could not be set up overnight as large investments were required to create world-class infrastructure. However, it was essential to set up these zones in order to compete with countries like China.
He allayed fears over Chinese goods flooding the Indian market by stating that statistics clearly showed that Indian exports to China had been growing faster than the imports from that country. As a result, India’s balance of trade gap with China had narrowed down in recent months, he added.
The minister said that India's trade had grown at a rate of over 20 per cent which was much higher than most of the Asean countries. The country would certainly achieve the target of 1 per cent market share in global trade by 2007. This would entail an annual growth rate of 12 per cent and see the export turnover eventually touching the $ 80-billion mark. Merchandise exports during the fiscal ended March 31, 2003, are expected to cross the $ 50-billion milestone.
Jaitley said the traditional sectors had not been ignored in the new Exim policy. Various benefits such as duty-free import entitlement had been incorporated for status holders with an incremental growth of more than 25 per cent in FoB value of exports.
Annual advance licence facility for status holders has been introduced to enable them to plan for their imports of raw material and components on an annual basis so that they can take advantage of bulk purchases. Several benefits had also been introduced pharmaceuticals, gem and jewellery and infotech sectors.
Later, speaking at a session on the Exim policy organised by CII, Jaitley said the context of the Exim policy has changed in order to enable exporters to be globally competitive.