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New foreign trade policy to focus on MSMEs, Ecomm Zones, AI

India's upcoming foreign trade policy will seek to handhold MSMEs to build their financial capabilities, set up special zones for ecommerce exports and develop new mechanisms to support services related to artificial intelligence and Internet of Things.

The commerce and industry ministry is currently reviewing the existing Foreign Trade Policy. As part of this, it is deliberating on improving India's trade resilience so as to be prepared for unforeseen events such as the Covid-19 pandemic and integrating Nari Shakti (womanpower) into international trade and value chains to encourage women into export-oriented businesses.

The current policy was announced on April 1, 2015 and was extended till March 31, 2023. As part of the new policy, slated to be released by the end of this month, the government may announce a vision and strategies document for laying the roadmap of goods and services exports from April 1.

Officials said around 10 chapters would be part of the document.

"We are working on ways to facilitate ecommerce exports and discussions are on to setup ecommerce zones on the lines of Software Technology Parks of India," said one official, adding that detailed strategies to boost ecommerce and build further on Brand India are being contemplated. The ecommerce zones could provide all facilities at one place, including banks, fintech companies, customs clearance and logistics and courier services, along with a separate space for warehousing.

The new trade strategy is aimed at boosting India's goods and services exports that are expected to hit $750 billion in the ongoing fiscal year, compared with $676 billion in fiscal 2022.

Commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal said the ministry has looked at various aspects of the foreign trade policy (FTP) as it is basically a collection of various incentive schemes.

Officials are also adding the aspect of vision into the policy as the ministry is targeting to take the goods and services exports to $2 trillion by 2030.


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