Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said on Wednesday the government will unveil a ‘pragmatic’ Foreign Trade Policy on April 18 with a view to promoting shrinking exports and narrowing down trade deficit.
"We have taken a number of measures and we are seriously looking at more measures...and a forward looking, pragmatic (annual supplement) Foreign Trade Policy will be announced on April 18," he said while addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry annual general meeting in New Delhi.
The government in December had announced incentives for exporters that include extension of two per cent interest subsidy for an additional one year ending March, 2014.
"I have had very detailed discussions with the Finance Minister (P Chidambaram) as he had announced in the Budget speech about the Foreign Trade Policy and exports-related matters and support to the industry, and the two ministries are in talks," Sharma said.
He said the trade deficit (the difference between imports and exports) will cross $190 billion in 2012-13.
"It will be between $192-196 billion. “It's a serious challenge because it directly impacts deficit scenario, current account deficit too," he said.
Current account deficit touched a record high of 6.7 per cent for the December quarter of 2012-13, causing much worries to the government.
During April-February 2012-13, exports declined by 4 per cent to $265.95 billion.
Sectors like engineering and textiles are registering negative growth.
These segments are likely to get some sops in the foreign trade policy.
According to sources, exporters are likely to get benefits under focus product and focus market scheme.
Special economic zones, which contribute about 30 per cent of the country's overall exports, may also to get incentives.
These would help in boosting exports and bridging the widening trade deficit which has touched $182.1 billion in the 11-month period of the last fiscal.
On a query related to implementation of Goods and Service Tax, Sharma said the Finance Minister is seized of the matter and sufficient progress has been made on this front.
Stressing on the need to make India one of the major defence producers of the world, Sharma said he would push for higher foreign direct investment cap in the defence sector beyond the current 26 per cent.
The government was committed to address issues constraining the industrial performance by putting in place an institutionalised arrangement for fast tracking infrastructural projects, he said.
All pending projects would get speedy approvals from the Cabinet Committee on Investment in the coming months, he added.
Image: Anand Sharma | Photograph: Rediff Archives