Business Standard, India
Draft law for hassle-free export of perishables
BS Reporter / New Delhi
5 October 2006
Export of fruits, vegetables, meat and fish could soon become easier with the commerce ministry proposing a draft legislation on export of perishable goods.
The legislation proposes to set up a single-window clearance mechanism, according to newly-appointed Commerce Secretary G K Pillai.
“At present, nearly 30 clearances are required to export perishable goods. Getting the permission for it is a longer process than for non-perishable goods. The law intends to allow a single-point clearance,” Pillai said.
He added that the draft law had already been circulated for comments and would soon be sent to the Cabinet for final approval.
Identifying reduction in transaction cost as a priority area, Pillai said, “From October 15, all electronic goods exported and imported between India and Singapore under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement will be done on the basis of mutually recognised certification. We are keen to extend this arrangement to other items and countries as well.”
Pillai said he had mandated his officials to work towards reducing the time for air cargo clearance from five days at present to 12 hours by December.
“We want to reduce the time further to four hours by June 2007,” he said, adding this was still higher than the standard international time of two hours.
On free trade agreements, Pillai said negotiations for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement with Japan was expected to be kick-started during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the country in November while the preferential trade agreement with Mauritius was expected to be finalised later this week.
Another area of focus was extension of the Indo-Nepal trade treaty which expires in March 2007.
“I am of the view that we need to give more concessions under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement to our neighbours. Being a larger economy we can afford to do more,” he said.
On special economic zones, Pillai said for the 181 zones formally approved so far, not one farmer had been displaced as the land in all these zones either belonged to the private sector or to the industrial development corporations.
“We have also advised all the state industrial development corporations to give land on lease to the developers rather than on outright sale. Some states like Gujarat already have a policy of not selling land,” he said, adding there was also a consensus that only barren, waste and single-crop land should be used for the zones.