Commerce & Industry Minister''s Speech on new trade policy
01 September 2004
Ladies & Gentlemen
For India to become a major player in world trade, an all encompassing, comprehensive view needs to be taken for the overall development of the countrys foreign trade. While increase in exports is of vital importance, we have also to facilitate those imports which are required to stimulate our economy. Coherence and consistency among trade and other economic policies is important for maximising the contribution of such policies to development. It was felt that the Exim Policy with its limited focus may not be able to meet our objectives. Thus, while incorporating the existing practice of enunciating an annual Exim Policy, it is necessary to go much beyond and take an integrated approach to the developmental requirements of Indias foreign trade. This is the context of the new Foreign Trade Policy.
2. Trade is not an end in itself, but a means to economic growth and national development. The primary purpose is not the mere earning of foreign exchange, but the stimulation of greater economic activity. The Foreign Trade Policy is rooted in this belief and built around two major objectives. These are:
- To double our percentage share of global merchandise trade within the next five years; and
- To act as an effective instrument of economic growth by giving a thrust to employment generation.
3. A multi-pronged strategy is needed to achieve these ambitious objectives. I decided that it was meaningless for me or my ministry to attempt to devise this in isolation, within the four walls of Udyog Bhawan. I was very clear from the beginning that the process should be transparent, and that it could only happen in partnership with trade.
4. I began the process of consultation in the very first week of my assuming office. I attended presentations of all Export Promotion Councils, as well as various Industry Associations and Business Federations. Over 3000 suggestions were received and each was carefully considered. Regarding those which we found difficult to accept, we decided to obtain more information in order to develop clarity, and so we put them on the website for comments. We interacted with exporters, big and small, individuals and groups, in Delhi and in other places. I called for suggestions from experts and also from all of my ministerial colleagues and received very valuable ones.