Foreign trade policy with long-term goal of self-reliance in works

Strengthening India’s domestic manufacturing, making India self-reliant in many products and a separate chapter on e-commerce could be highlights of the upcoming foreign trade policy (FTP). These issues were discussed in a meeting that commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal had on Monday with industry chambers and exporters of around 10 sectors ahead of the validity of the existing policy ending on March 31. “We are prepared to bring out the policy in time,” said an official.

Industry chambers and exporters of around 10 sectors such as textiles, clothing, chemicals, pharma, electronics, capital goods and engineering, agro-food processing industry, leather, and services including higher education, e-commerce, tourism including medical tourism, and media & entertainment attended the meeting. “The ministry has sought inputs. The larger issue is to strengthen domestic manufacturing with a perspective of self-reliance,” said another official.

Exports from India touched $292.9 billion in the 11 months to February 2020, while imports were $436.03 billion. While the government plans a full-fledged policy for 2020-25, exporters have said the policy could be delayed and the existing policy may continue for another year.

The policy is likely to have a separate chapter on e-commerce and there could be larger focus on import substitution to make India self-reliant especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic disrupting global supply chains.

Goyal had informed Lok Sabha last week that the closure of factories in China may affect Indian industries, which import components, intermediaries and raw materials from China like the pharmaceutical, electronics and automobile industries.

The issue of tourism and hospitality industry getting the infrastructure status, and making India an attractive destination for higher education also came up in the meeting especially with the US and EU becoming less attractive for students in the wake of the Covid-19 spread.