FTP likely to provide relief to exporters: Nath

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New Delhi, Mar 11 (UNI) The government today said the annual supplement to the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP), to be announced in the first week of April will look to provide relief to exporters, especially in the high employment generating sector.

Indian exporters have been hit by the hardening of the rupee against the dollar and Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath today said he would look to give relief to exporters in the new trade policy and ''give a priority thrust to certain sector.'' ''We are looking at measures which are WTO compatible and can neutralise levies which are not being refunded at the moment,'' Mr Nath said on the sidelines of 77th AGM of ICC India.

Mr Nath clarified that the new policy will not have a hedging mechanism for exports, as in the long run it is neither sustainable nor credible.

He, however, said the government was looking at providing benefits to some areas which have the potential for quantum growth.

In view of hardening of rupee resulting in loss of jobs and closure of units, exporters were expecting some relief from the desk of Finance Minister through Union Budget 2008-09, particularly as Economic Survey had also indicated that the road ahead would be tough for exporters.

However, the Budget did not have anything substantial for the exporters even as the rupee has appreciated nearly 10 per cent against the dollar during the current fiscal.

The Minister said the exports will be to the tune of 152-155 billion dollars falling short of its target of 160-billion-dollar.

''I am still hopeful but we may be a little short of the target.

Even with the prevailing global uncertainty and the hardening of the rupee, I am still confident that exports this year will increase 20 per cent over last year and this is substantial and a credible increase,'' Mr Nath said.

On the India-EU trade and investment treaty, Mr Nath said talks were not progressing well and hopes of concluding negotiations will have to look at addressing sensitivities of both sides.

''There are senstivitites and we are looking at how compatability of goods can be addressed since EU already has 20 per cent of its products in zero duty,'' Mr Nath said.

Mr Nath also expressed his dissatisfaction on talks in the developmental round in Geneva and said the developed countries were still trying to dictate terms.

India's applied tariff for all goods are an average of 18.3 per cent compared with the EU's 4.3 per cent. EU wants that 90 per cent of tariff line should be eliminated within the next seven years.

UNI PBB SR KN1839

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