Exclusive Interview with Rita Teaotia, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India
Countries like India are majorly Small Medium Enterprises (SME)-driven. So, any trade agreement that the Government of India enters into would definitely be in favour of them, said the Commerce Secretary The Dollar Business Bureau
Rita Teaotia (R), Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India, and Arvind Kumar(L), Secretary, Department of Industries & Commerce, Govt. of Telangana, in an interaction with The Dollar Business on Friday
Federation of Indian Exporters Organisations (FIEO), jointly with the State Governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and supported by Trade Promotion Organisations, had organised an interactive session with key officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Government of Telangana, at the reputed Indian School of Business (ISB), in Hyderabad on Friday.After the meeting that focused on tapping of export-potential sectors of A.P. and Telangana, Rita Teaotia, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India, along with Arvind Kumar, Secretary, Department of Industries & Commerce, Govt. of Telangana and other Commerce Ministry officials interacted with the media.In an exclusive interaction with The Dollar Business, Rita Teaotia shared her views on a wide range of issues related to ease of doing business, government’s efforts to encourage small-scale industries, Union Budget 2016-17 and country’s trade negotiations with the international partners.
] Rita Teaotia, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India
Responding to The Dollar Business whether tax matters like Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT) and Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) are affecting the SEZ growth in the country (especially to the upcoming ones), the Commerce Secretary replied, “MAT and DDT may not be a real concern for SEZs, but the government on its part has been making efforts for SEZ growth through measures like creation of special hubs, among others.”She added, prior to and even after introduction of MAT and DDT in 2011-12, it is noteworthy that several SEZs have sprouted in the country. Tax reforms like MAT and DDT are not of serious concern to those SEZs that have enough ability to get commissioned.When asked by The Dollar Business , if key tax concerns related to MSMEs were addressed in the Budget, she said the Department of Revenue has given a sunset date for MSMEs providing them a chance to get tax-exempted.On another query whether trade agreements in most countries, including India, are focused on big players, the Commerce Secretary said, “Leaving other countries aside, countries like India are majorly Small Medium Enterprises (SME)-driven. So, any trade agreement the Government of India enters into would definitely be in favour of them.”Regarding Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with EU and Australia, which have been under negotiations for a long time, the Commerce Secretary said, “Government is making efforts to speed up negotiations for an early result. Efforts would be on till a favourable situation in terms of goods and services is felt by the Indian side, as they form the core part of FTA in any country.”She added, Australia has been keen on FTA with India and negotiations are happening on a regular basis with 15 rounds of negotiations happening so far.On the EU-India Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), which has been on since 2007, she said, “The agreement underwent 16 rounds of high-level negotiations till date and the recent negotiation that happened in January is a stock taking one.”Finally responding to India's slowdown in exports over the year which is still continuing, Rita Teaotia said the country has been facing a tough situation in case of exports as a result of the global slowdown. Global slowdown along with issues like currency devaluation made Indian products costlier at the global level, thus affecting the mood of importers which ultimately affected the Indian export basket.