India to review Foreign Trade Policy Friday

April 10th, 2008 - 7:04 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) Commerce Minister Kamal Nath will conduct the annual review of the country’s Foreign Trade Policy here Friday with the objective of pushing India’s merchandise exports in the backdrop of a global slowdown. The review, which will be conducted with the representatives of several export promotion organisations and leading industry lobbies, would also set the India’s export target for the current fiscal.

In the previous annual review, the target for merchandise exports was fixed at $160 billion, but expectations now are that actual figures may not be higher than $155 billion. Industry expects a target of $200 billion for 2008-09.

“There is a need for having more dynamic export promotion measures and schemes in the forthcoming Foreign Trade Policy,” said the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

“Priority should be given to bring down transaction costs for Indian exporters, which is one of the highest among our competing countries,” the chamber said in a statement, ahead of the policy review.

With inflation climbing to a three-year high and exporters hard hit by an appreciation in the value of the rupee, the review may also include sops such as reduction in duties for export inputs.

This will be in continuation of the relief package of Rs.80 billion announced in the recent past to enable exporters to tide over the difficulties on account of a strong rupee and the resultant setbacks even in some traditional markets.

Ficci, as also other industry lobbies, have also recommended a scheme that would completely neutralise various kinds of duties paid by exporters on the lines of the current Duty Entitlement Pass Book (DEPB) scheme.

The DEPB scheme allows exporters to get refunds on duties paid on items imported as inputs for re-export. The scheme had come under criticism by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that called it an export subsidy given by the government.

“This is necessary to give a fillip to sectors that have been hit by the sharp appreciation of the rupee,” said Sanjay Budhia, chairman, trade committee, Confederation of Ind8ian Industry (CII).

In a similar vein, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), said the priority must be to help exporters regain their lost ground, especially when global commodity prices are rising.

“The government and exporters need to go on war-footing to make exports more competitive in the wake of rupee appreciation for fiscal 2008-09,” the chamber said.

India’s share in global merchandize trade was a mere one percent in 2006. This has remained the same in the first half of 2007 and both the commerce ministry and the export community want this to go up significantly higher.

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