India's new five-year `Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20' unveiled today aims at raising the country's exports to $900 billion by fiscal year 2019-20, against total exports of $465.9 billion in the 2013-14 fiscal year that ended on 31 March 2014.
India's merchandise exports for the first 11 months of the 2014-15 fiscal year stood at $286.58 billion, according to data released by the government.
Unveiling the `Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20' today, minister of commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman said the new trade policy provides a framework for increasing exports of goods and services, generating employment and increasing value addition in the country.
She said the focus of the new policy is to support both the manufacturing and services sectors, with special emphasis on improving the 'ease of doing business'. Towards this the new policy incorporates two new schemes - Merchandise Exports From India Scheme and Services Exports From India Scheme.
Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) aims at export promotion of specified goods to specified markets while Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) aims at increasing exports of notified services (against a plethora of schemes earlier), with different conditions for eligibility and usage.
E-commerce exports of handloom products, books/periodicals, leather footwear, toys and customised fashion garments through courier or foreign post office would also be eligible to get benefit of MEIS (for values up to Rs25,000). These measures would not only capitalise on India's strength in these areas and increase exports but also provide employment.
In order to encourage procurement of capital goods from indigenous manufacturers under the EPCG scheme, the specific export obligation has been reduced to 75 per cent of the normal export obligation.
This will promote the domestic capital goods manufacturing industry. Such flexibilities will also help exporters to develop their productive capacities for both local and global consumption, the minister said.
The new policy also aims to boost exports of defence and hi-tech items.
The commerce minister also offered sops to exports from SEZs, which, she said, had seen phenomenal growth, significantly higher than the overall export growth of the country, in recent times. The government has now decided to extend benefits of both the reward schemes (MEIS and SEIS) to units located in SEZs to give a further boost to exports from SEZs.
The new trade policy proposes to move towards paperless working in 24x7 environment. The government had recently reduced the number of mandatory documents required for exports and imports to three, which is comparable with international benchmarks. Now, a facility has been created to upload documents in exporter/importer profile and the exporters will not be required to submit documents repeatedly. Attention has also been paid to simplify various 'Aayat Niryat' forms, bringing in clarity in different provisions, removing ambiguities and enhancing electronic governance.
For the ease of doing business, government proposes to empower manufacturer-exporters by allowing them to self certify their manufactured goods in phases, as originating from India with a view to qualifying for preferential treatment under various bilateral and regional trade agreements. This `Approved Exporter System' will help these manufacturer exporters considerably in getting fast access to international markets, she said.
A number of steps have been taken to encourage manufacture and exports under 100 per cent EOU/EHTP/STPI/BTP schemes. These include a fast track clearance facility for these units, permitting them to share infrastructure facilities, permitting inter unit transfer of goods and services, permitting them to set up warehouses near the port of export and to use duty free equipment for training purposes.
She promised to have regular interactions with all stakeholders, including state governments to achieve the national objectives.