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Govt working on SEZ reforms : Commerce Secretary

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NEW DELHI : The government is working on reforms in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) domain so that movement of goods between domestic tariff area (DTA) and SEZ space is carried out smoothly without affecting the competitiveness of goods in the export markets, Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said on Saturday.

During the pandemic two years ago, many office spaces in the SEZ areas had been vacated due to ‘work from home’ practice initiated by the occupants. Barthwal said this had led to the demarcation of SEZs into SEZ and DTA spaces.

”Scale economies have become very important nowadays. Reforms in the SEZ are in the offing so that movement of goods from SEZ to DTA and vice-versa are not affected rendering goods produced become less competitive”, Barthwal said at a symposium organised by the Bharat Chamber of Commerce. The official said that the foreign trade policy (FTP) of the government had been framed keeping in mind the global value chain.

”Our FTP has been designed for exporters to take advantage of the global value chain. The industry, which had always sought protection in the past, will now have to integrate with the global value chain and look at where the competitive advantage lay”, he added.

Stating that the target of achieving USD two trillion exports by 2030 is possible, Barthwal said that USD one trillion will be forthcoming from merchandise exports and another USD one trillion from services.

‘Services appear to be intangible, but there is a huge scope to grow. We should look at the impediments which are preventing the growth of the services sector”, he added. Barthwal said with external trade becoming an important part of the growth engine, both the industrial and foreign trade policies are now intertwined.

He said that there is an increasing demand by countries to ink free trade agreements (FTAs) with India. In bilateral and multilateral agreements, the most important aspect is to understand the policy of ‘give and take’. If one has to take something, he also has to give something, he said.

Barthwal said both the UK and the US are raising the standards by bringing in sanitary and phytosanitary issues in imported goods. ”We will have to adhere to these standards which are becoming increasingly difficult”, he said.

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