EPCES Chairman invited by Ministry of Commerce to be part of SEZ Panel set up to make SEZ policy compatible to WTO rules

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (CIM), Government of India, has appointed Dr. Vinay Sharma, the officiating chairman of Export Promotion Council of EOUs and SEZs (EPCES), as a member of the group constituted by Department of Commerce for studying the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) policy of India.

“EPCES is the premier institution in the development and promotion of the trade in the country. The council has reinforced the conducive business environment for SMEs, mid and large-sized companies in the country. India is growing fast but other countries in Asia are also gearing up fast, hence policy and regulations need to be revisited to match the new-world economic scenario. Also, EPCES will be able to contribute significantly in making recommendations as per WTO norms,” said Dr. Vinay Sharma while welcoming the decision to include council representation in the group for SEZ policy.

The SEZ member committee is headed by Baba Kalyani, Chairman, Bharat Forge and its first meeting will be held under the assistance of Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu on 22nd June, 2018. The government has constituted the group of eminent persons to study the county’s Special Economic Zones (SEZ) policy and suggest measures to make it more relevant for exporters and compatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) norms.

The EPCES strongly believed that to study and revise the SEZ policy, inputs of members of operational units and their representative body was required for framing policy framework suiting to SEZ members.

The Commerce Ministry set up the review committee for SEZs after the US challenged India’s export subsidy programme at the WTO. Commerce Ministry stated in it’s official release: “The group will evaluate the SEZ policy, suggest measures to cater to the needs of exporters in the present economic scenario and make the SEZ policy WTO compatible, suggest course correction in SEZ policy, make comparative analysis of the SEZ scheme and dovetail the SEZ policy with other similar schemes”. Evaluation committee instructed to submit recommendationsin 3 months from now, the release added.

The US raised questions on almost India’s entire export subsidy regime in the WTO on 14th March this year. US challenged schemes like special economic zones (SEZ), including merchandise exports, export-oriented units scheme and sector-specific schemes, the scheme included electronics hardware technology parks, export promotion capital goods scheme; and a duty-free impr orts programme foexporters. India and the US tried to engage in consultations to resolve the matter but failed. Now, WTO has formed dispute panel for the resolution of the matter between countries.

There are 223 operational SEZs and 5146 units are there in these SEZs and business from these SEZ has clocked 18% increase year on year between 2016-17 and 2017-18. Export from SEZs is growing every year, developers and units enjoy certain fiscal and non-fiscal incentives in these zones.

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