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Polls may stall trade deals: Pillai

BS Reporters  |  Kolkata 

A five member delegation would be leaving shortly for Brussels for another round of negotiations on the EU-India Foreign Trade Agreement (FTA), likely be completed by end-2009.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meet organised by EEPC India, G K Pillai, central commerce & industry secretary, said, “Negotiations are going on schedule and it is most likely to be finalised by the end of next year”

Some other FTAs were moving on fast track and likely to be finalised included Korea, Japan and European Union.

Pillai admitted that with four state elections and Parliamentary election round the corner, trade related policy decisions would slow down.

Trade related matters were decided by political dynamics, said Pillai.

Pillai urged manufacturers to move up the value chain by developing high technology products as tariffs would become irrelevant soon.

Non-tariff, or technical barriers and high technology products, could save Indian companies and help them rise up the value chain, he said.

China’s high technology exports were 32 per cent of total exports but Indian exports in the high technology sector were only 5 per cent of total.

Later, at the Confederation Of Indian Industries (CII), Pillai said political problems plagued land acquistion issues related to SEZ, more so Nandigram. Till date around 513 SEZs covering around 62000 hectares had been cleared, of which 254 were notified.

Investment in SEZs from 2006 till date had been around Rs 74000 crore and could rise to Rs 200000 crore by end-2009. Around 45 SEZs would be producing around 2 million mobile phones and 180 more SEZs would be operational mainly in the information technology and manufacturing sectors.

Pillai urged rapid development of Kolkata Port Trust infrastructure and said the state government needed to push for more private ports.

"In 2004, the capacity of the Mundra Port, in Gujarat, was 6 million ton, to be raised to 100 million ton by 2010. Private sector ports are growing at a rate of 35 per cent on efficiency alone and the government needs to push for such growth in efficiency and trade," said Pillai.

First Published: Mon, September 08 2008. 00:00 IST