DGFT highlights initiatives taken to boost Foreign Trade

The Director-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Dr Anup Wadhawan, interacted with exporters on the issues of Trading Across Borders and Foreign Trade Policy in an interactive session jointly organised by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, CII and Fieo in Mumbai recently. The Joint Secretary, DIPP, Mr Shailendra Singh, Joint Secretary, Customs, Mr Satya Srinivas, and many other senior officers participated in the discussions.

In response to questions raised by the exporters on the major initiatives taken by DGFT/Department of Commerce to promote trade and improve Ease of Doing Business, DGFT briefly summarised the major initiatives relating to policy simplification, reducing cost of capital through interest subvention, document reduction, IT initiatives like online filing of applications, creation of trade portal and training and outreach activities.

The following are the highlights of the important initiatives:

A – New Foreign Trade Policy

* The new Foreign Trade Policy (2015-20) launched on April 1, 2015 with emphasis on improving the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ for export and import business.

* The new FTP consolidated 5 different schemes for rewarding merchandise exports under the earlier policy into a single scheme, namely, Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS).

* MEIS introduced on April 1, 2015, is a precise scheme wherein lines are specified at HS 8 digit.

* As MEIS incentives were country group specific, exporters were required to submit landing certificate as a proof of landing of consignment in the destination country. Exporters requested doing away with the landing certificates as obtaining landing certificate was an avoidable cost. CIM approved extending MEIS benefits for the already notified products to all countries, which was implemented w.e.f. May 4, 2016. This afforded dual benefit for most exporters as not only the landing certificate was dispensed with, the MEIS benefits were also extended to cover all countries.

* A major initiative has been taken for the services exporters. The scrip issued under the Served From India Scheme of the FTP 2009-15 remained underutilised as could only be used for import of certain goods for use of the exporter. Now, the new scheme, the Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) introduced in the new FTP removed all such restrictions. The scrip now can be used for making payment of duties or can be transferred.

* Indian exporters pay high rate of interest on the capital borrowed. Interest Equalisation Scheme notified by RBI on 4.12.2015 reduces cost of capital by allowing 3 per cent interest equalisation on Pre- and Post-Shipment Rupee Export Credit to eligible exporters. All products manufactured and exported by SME eligible. For the rest, scheme available on 416 HS 4 digit lines. Up to March 2016, benefit to the tune of Rs 1,432.90 crore has been passed on to eligible borrowers.

B – Ease of Doing Business and IT initiatives

* Number of mandatory documents required for exports and imports reduced to 3 each for export and import. Earlier, 7 documents were required for exports and 10 for imports. DGFT in January 2016 had also specified that any violations in this regard should be brought to the notice.

* A major simplification was carried out for the first time exporters who are required to obtain Import-Export Code. DGFT did away with the issuance of physical copy of IEC and introduced IEC w.e.f. April 1, 2016. The application, processing and issuance was completely made online where no physical application was required to be submitted.

* IEC has been integrated with eBiz portal of DIPP so firms have a choice to use either DGFT or eBiz portal for making an application. IEC and EPCG applications have been integrated with eNivesh portal implemented by PMG set up by the Cabinet Secretariat.

* DGFT exchanges data with Customs, banks and EPCs through EDI message exchange system, reducing physical interface of clients and fraud possibilities.

* Exporters can now file online applications for IEC, Advance Licence, MEIS, SEIS, etc., pay application fee online and check status of their applications.

* Use of electronic bank realisation certificate (eBRC) system has been extended. The eBRC system captures details of the foreign exchange received by exporters through the banking channel. This data is shared with 13 state governments who may use it for processing of VAT refunds. DGFT is in discussing with the GST team for integrating this information with the GST network.

* ‘Aayat Niryat’ Forms have been simplified, bringing in clarity in different provisions, removing ambiguities and enhancing electronic governance.

* DGFT has launched a new look website making it more user-friendly and easy to navigate. It has a large dynamic component whereby the trade community can file applications online for IEC and various other schemes of DGFT. The exporters can also see the status of their electronic bank realisation certificates in almost real-time. The website is rich in content with all documents related to Foreign Trade Policy along with a responsive online grievance redressal system.

* Complaint Resolution System: Over 6,000 EDI-related issues of the exporters resolved since April 2015 through the Complaint Resolution System. In addition, over 650 issues resolved since in the past 2 months through the Twitter handles of DGFT and mc.twitterseva.com

C – Other important measures

* Board of Trade was reconstituted, the first meeting chaired by CIM was held on 06.04.2016. A total of 13 Ministries/Departments and 34 trade bodies/organisations took part. Action initiated on the recommendations.

* In the last two years, 46,000 new and prospective exporters have attended the Niryat Bandhu outreach programmes through the regional offices of DGFT. DGFT conducted outreach activities at 34 clusters, as part of Niryat Bandhu. In addition, an online training programme was started with the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) for first time entrepreneurs. So far, 303 participants (all IEC holders), comprising 34 females, have undergone this online certificate course. About 8 such courses are envisaged in the current financial year.

* An ambitious FTA outreach programme has been launched to reach out to the exporters located in the 34 major export clusters/cities. The programmes focus on training exporters to utilise the Free Trade Agreements—taking inputs from exporters on FTAs under negotiations, for example, Regional Comprehensive Economic Policy (RCEP).

* Indian Trade Portal launched by Department of Commerce and managed by Fieo displays information useful for export-import. It contains the trade enquiries uploaded by Indian trade missions, tariff and trade data of India’s major trade partners, export market reports, and trade agreements, etc.

The efficacy of these initiatives is reflected in the fact that the annual trade data indicates that the share of the manufacturing sector in India’s total exports has increased from 64 per cent in 2014-15 to more than 69 per cent in 2015-16. The analysis carried out by DGCI&S shows that important sectors like drugs and pharmaceuticals, organic and inorganic chemicals, electronic goods, cotton yarn/fabrics/made-ups and handloom products, RMG of all textiles and plastic and linoleum have recorded significant increase in 2015-16 over 2014-15, said a release.

Source: Exim News Service – MUMBAI, July 14