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Government to present new foreign trade policynews
18 April 2007

Mumbai: The government will present the revised annual foreign trade policy for 2007-08 on 19 April amid fears that the country may miss the $125-billion export target for 2006-07 with a strengthening rupee and a global slowdown.

Commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath will present the annual foreign trade policy review for 2004-09. But, with the finance ministry opposing any sops for exporters, the stakeholders do not expect any big-bang announcements from Nath.

The only exception could be for agricultural exports, which are likely to get a boost. Agricultural production has been lagging at a mere 2.7 per cent while overall GDP in the country grew by 9.2 per cent.

The government is likely to expand the Vishesh Krishi Upaj Yajona, which provides duty-free credit entitlement, including more products, to benefit an increased number of farmers. At present, it covers only fruits, vegetables, flowers, minor forest produce and t heir value added products.

As exports of sectors with large export potential like leather, handicrafts and textiles are not keeping pace with overall growth, the policy may make an attempt to address these issues at least to the extent of simplifying procedures.

While the decision to extend the most popular ''duty entitlement passbook scheme'' (DEPB) has been taken, the announcement may be made in the policy. The government wanted to replace DEPB with a wider scheme that was WTO-compliant but met with resistance fro m the finance ministry.

"All stakeholder inputs have been taken into account in fine-tuning the elements of the annual supplement to the foreign trade policy through consultations," the commerce ministry said in a statement.

India''s foreign trade policy, also announced by Nath on 31 August, 2004, took an integrated view of the overall development of doubling India''s share in global merchandise trade by 2009 and act as an effective instrument of economic growth by giving a thrust to employment generation.

India''s merchandise exports since the announcement of the policy have risen sharply, from $53 billion in 2003-04 to cross the landmark figure of $100 billion in 2005-06.

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Government to present new foreign trade policy