ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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More of the Same

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In announcing the export-import policy for this year, the commerce minister did not fail to take advantage of the opportunity to present it as the new policy of the new government in the new century. That about summed up what was new about the policy which once again fails to address the basic anti-export bias of the economy. And because its scope is limited to trade and it does not venture into the area of production – although enhanced competition arising from liberalised imports would have a significant impact there – it fails to prepare the economy for the challenges of closer integration with the world.

What is radical in the policy is the removal of quantitative import restrictions on 714 items and the phasing out of special import licences. But this is a consequence of India’s membership of the World Trade Organisation. The dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO had finally overruled India’s appeals and required it to negotiate the phasing out of quantitative restrictions earlier than the 2003 deadline the commerce ministry had earlier set for itself. After April 1, 2001 there would be practically no quantitative import restrictions save those imposed on grounds of security, the environment and morality. Once every commodity becomes importable, special import licences automatically lose their relevance. Hence the policy phases them out as well.

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