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A new and vibrant SEZ policy to boost Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign.

Date: 09-05-2022
Subject: A new and vibrant SEZ policy to boost Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign
China's export growth slumped in April to its lowest level in almost two years, customs data showed Monday, as a Covid resurgence shuttered factories, sparked transport curbs and caused congestion at key ports.

The data shows the extent of growing damage as the world's second largest economy confines millions to their homes -- particularly in key business hub Shanghai -- to stamp out its worst Covid resurgence since the early days of the pandemic.

Beijing has persisted with a strict zero-Covid policy involving lockdowns and mass testing, but the economic costs are mounting as manufacturing hubs and supply chains atrophy under gruelling restrictions.

Export growth plunged to 3.9 percent on-year last month, the Customs Administration said Monday.

While this was above analysts' expectations of 2.7 percent growth according to a Bloomberg poll, it marked the lowest rate since June 2020.

Import growth was flat in April, an improvement from a 0.1 percent contraction in March, as Chinese consumers remain hesitant under a welter of restrictions across the country.

Customs spokesman Li Kuiwen tried to strike an upbeat note on Monday saying the economy still has room to make a turnaround and that its "positive fundamentals" remain unchanged.

In April, China's biggest city Shanghai was almost entirely sealed off as it became the epicentre of the country's worst coronavirus resurgence, with many factories halting production and trucker shortage causing goods to pile up at its port.

Restrictions are also creeping in other cities, including the capital Beijing.

While top leaders have offered words of reassurance for tech, infrastructure and jobs, analysts have warned that the zero-Covid strategy remains a dominant challenge to growth and stability.

India was one of the first Asian nation to accept the effectiveness of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) model in promotion of exports and Asia's first EPZ was set up in Kandla in 1965. Subsequently, SEZ scheme was announced at the time of annual review of EXIM Policy in April 2000. The basic idea was to establish the zones as areas where export production could take place free from all roles and regulations governing imports and exports and to give them operational flexibility. Till 2006, SEZs were functional in India under the provisions of the Foreign Trade Policy and different statutes to provide fiscal incentives. Thereafter, the existing SEZ Act, 2005, supported by SEZ Rules, came into effect in February 2006 after much consultation and deliberation.

However, with WTO dispute challenging all export incentives, decreasing attractiveness among investor community due to sunset for various incentives and complex compliances, large unutilised SEZ land parcels, excessive emphasis on export promotion have necessitated the need to have a fresh outlook on the existing SEZ policy. Industry is looking out for an SEZ policy 2.0 which is inline with the changing requirements of Indian economy and that takes into consideration global experience on SEZs and learnings from the past. The Indian policy making too has taken a leap of faith, in tune with global best practices, to move from export linked incentives to production linked incentives scheme.

Global experience on SEZs

SEZ model has found its success in China and other South East Asian countries like Vietnam and Indonesia. With the share of SEZ exports (2019-20) to total exports reaching to around 60% for China vis-à-vis 30% for India, China has been able to push its agenda of economic growth through its SEZ policy really well. India may have been a little late in implementing its SEZ policy when compared to China, learnings from its own experience and of other neighbouring nations will be a key to the new SEZ Policy. Moreover, direct export incentives are against the WTO directives and accordingly, the new SEZ policy will be taking that into consideration.

Expectations from the new SEZ law
In late 2018, Ministry of Commerce came out with a report on ‘Revitalising SEZs- From islands of exports to catalysts of economic and employment growth’. The report was issued by a Committee formed under the chairmanship of Baba Kalyani, MD Bharat Forge.. The strategic shift suggested by the Committee was to move away from the island of exports to more integrated hub for employment and economic activities enabled by quality infrastructure and ease of doing business.

Source Name :- Economic Times 

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