‘ We want FDI... only way to ensure employment, income’

Vishwanath Kulkarni Milan | Updated on February 03, 2011

The Union Commerce and Industries Minister, Mr Anand Sharma/   -  Business Line

After the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Union Commerce and Industries Minister, Mr Anand Sharma, led a FICCI CEO delegation to Italy seeking to enhance bilateral trade and investment with one of India's top 25 trading partners.

While reiterating that he saw a ‘window of opportunity' to conclude the Doha Round of World Trade negotiations in 2011, Mr Sharma said the Government expects to come out soon with a National Policy on Manufacturing and announce incentives to certain industry sectors to boost exports.

Mr Sharma spoke on-board Frecciarossa, the high-speed train between Rome and Milan. Excerpts:

The RBI recently said that ‘green policies' were obstructing the FDI flow into the country. What's your take on it?

I don't want to comment on what the RBI said or the Environment Ministry is doing. As far as my Ministry is concerned, I reassure investors that there is a robust policy regime and that there will not be any reversal of the policy process. We want FDI to come in the industrial and manufacturing segment. That is the only way to ensure gainful employment and sustainable income for a very large and young population.

By when do you think the India-EU FTA would be concluded?

The negotiators are at it and have concluded the twelfth round of negotiations. We are optimistic about concluding it in the first half of this year. There are many unresolved issues that are being discussed. I cannot comment at this juncture on those issues. We leave it to the experts to handle them.

When do you expect to come out with the manufacturing policy?

We recently concluded the stakeholder consultations and inter-ministerial consultation. We will take a final view on it very soon. We want to take the share of manufacturing in GDP from 16 to 24 per cent. We also have to take rapid steps in skill development and training and also bring in proven good models from other countries.

Considering that onion prices have come down, will you take a relook at exports?

The time has not come yet. Let's see. Nafed, which had no powers to impose or lift ban, had imposed restrictions on onion exports till January 15, which led to speculation and hoarding. That had called for imposition of indefinite ban and we have done that. Powers have been vested back with the DGFT as per law.

There's some confusion on iron ore exports. Karnataka has banned and Orissa is contemplating a ban. The Steel Ministry is not in favour of renewing export of iron ore contracts ending March 31. What is your view?

We don't accept the Steel Ministry's view. The Group of Ministers has discussed this matter threadbare. India has an exportable surplus of iron ore and the domestic capacity is not adequate. Iron ore pellets or the lumps are the one that the Indian industry uses. In absence of adequate capacity to use iron ore fines, they are exported.

The Government has the policy manoeuvrability to take an appropriate view. Iron ore is mined in backward areas and you cannot store it because it is an environmental hazard. You cannot stop mining because that will leave a lot of poor people without wages and employment and will also undermine the mining industry. The Government has to take a balanced view on this issue.

Do you plan to announce export sops for labour-intensive sectors before the Budget?

The sectoral reviews have been done by the DGFT and his team and the stakeholders' consultation are complete. We expect to announce certain sops to labour-intensive sectors to boost exports ahead of the Budget. I would not want to disclose the sectors at this point because it leads to speculation.

Published on February 02, 2011

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