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March 31, 1999


Highlights: electronic systems, services exports, free trade zones, Rs 5 billion fund for states

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Hegde unveils simplified regime for exports, frees imports

The following are the main points of the Exim Policy announced by Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde in New Delhi today.

Exim policy rationalises the export regime The thrust is on trade reforms and cutting transaction costs of exports.

The policy allows electronic filing of applications to cut down exporter-government interfaces, introduces annual advance licence system, heralds a new beginning for services exports and the concept of free trade zone without customs intervention.

The zero-duty EPCG Scheme has been extended to other sectors. Special Import Licences will be issued for export of branded products. Weightage for small scale industries' will be tripled for consideration of the status of export house / star house, etc.

The policy also envisages an ombudsman to address exporters' problems. To begin with, the mechanism will be made operational in Bombay and later on similar arrangements will be considered at other major ports.

The Duty Entitlement Pass Book will continue and further rationalisation of export oriented units and export processing zones has been effected.

Green cards will be issued to exporters who export 50 per cent of their production with a minimum of Rs 10 million per year, entitling them to various facilities. This move is in recognition of the national service rendered by exporters.

All exporters who attain the status of export house/trading house/star trading house/super star trading house for three successive terms or more will be eligible for golden status certificate which will entitle them to all benefits accruing from such status in perpetuity, irrespective of variation in their performance in future.

Indian jewellery Additional facilities for gem and jewellery exports have also been highlighted. Hegde sought plan allocation of Rs 5 billion for grant to states to strengthen export infrastructure.

To promote exports to Russia, the value addition norm for exports has been reduced from 100 per cent to 33 per cent.

Threshold limit for the zero-duty EPCG scheme for several sub-sectors under the chemicals, plastics and textiles sectors has been brought down from Rs 200 million to Rs 10 million.

No additional customs duty would be charged on import of capital goods under zero-duty EPCG Scheme in marine and electronics sectors.

Having achieved the leadership position in the cut and polished diamond sector, a new thrust for jewellery and studded jewellery sector is intended to be provided through several measures. Personal carriage of jewellery has been permitted and export of jewellery through courier has been allowed.

A new concept of diamond imprest licence for import of cut and polished diamonds for mixing with cut and polished diamond and export with ten per cent value addition has been incorporated.

Import of consumables required for the gems and jewellery industry has been allowed to the extent of one per cent free on board value of the exports of the previous year.

Apart from extending all possible facilities applicable to merchandising exports, the threshold limit for recognition as service export house has been pegged at one third of the level prescribed for merchandising exports.

Hegde said a scheme was being evolved to involve the state governments in the export promotion effort particularly for encouraging agro exports. Assistance for infrastructure development for exports would be broadly linked to export performance of each state.

To ensure easy access to inputs and to integrate with the global economy, as many as 894 items have been added to the free list of imports. As many as 414 additional items have been put in the Special Import Licence list of imports.

Free trade zones will become operational from July 1, 1999, Hegde said. Units in free trade zone will be permitted to carry out manufacturing or trading activities. They shall not be subjected to any predetermined value addition, export obligation, input-output and wastage norms.

They shall be treated as outside the customs territory of the country and the customs shall be manning only entry and exit points.

The admissible limit for import and export of samples to promote exports has been considerably relaxed. Export of samples marked ''not for sale'' has been allowed without any limit. In other cases, export of samples upto $ 10,000 a consignment has been allowed.

Limit of import of bonafide technical and trade samples appearing in restricted list has been increased from Rs 3,000 a consignment to Rs 100,000 a consignment.

EOUs relating to agriculture and horticulture have been allowed to install equipments, inputs and consumables in the farmers' fields, outside the EOU.

Branded products exported under various schemes will be allowed to be reimported to the extend of five per cent of free on board value of the preceding year's export, subject to the refund of export related benefits.


More time for exporters to fulfil past EPCG obligations

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